Ikea launches buy-back service in all UK stores

Pictured: Ikea's Greenwich store

The scheme was set to launch last November, in a stand against Black Friday, but, due to lockdown restrictions forcing shop closures until April, the retailer took the decision to postpone. Ikea has previously piloted new models of furniture rental and refurbishment and take-back schemes for textiles and furniture. However, this is the first time the retailer is expanding these initiatives into a national offer.

Under the scheme, customers will be able to return new or gently used furniture for up to 50% of the original price, depending on the condition of the item. Dressers, sideboards, bookcases, shelf units, dining tables, desks and chairs are among the products covered, so long as they are either in good condition or have minor cosmetic flaws. The money will be given in the form of an Ikea voucher with no expiration date. 

Returned items will then be placed up for sale at dedicated ‘Circular Hubs’ in store. These zones were previously labelled ‘Bargain Corner’. At stores with in-house capacity, products can be restored before resale.

At Ikea’s Glasgow, Greenwich, Tottenham and Warrington stores, customers using the service will be asked to provide more information about the ‘story’ of the items, which will be conveyed to prospective new buyers using a special tag. This method will be trialled for two weeks, with results informing a decision on a wider rollout. The idea is to help customers connect with their products and appreciate the emotional and practical value.

The service forms part of Ikea’s partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – set up in recognition of the firm’s 2030 goal of becoming a fully circular business. Aside from increasing service-based models, Ikea’s definition of circular includes removing all single-use fossil-based plastics and shifting to only renewable and responsible key materials, such as textiles.

“Our research shows that there’s a huge demand to buy quality second-hand products; in fact, three in four would now consider buying pre-loved,” Ikea’s country sustainability for the UK and Ireland, Greg Lucas, said.

“For many, this comes down to affordability, but sustainability has a huge role to play in this decision too. Encouragingly, 32% of people say that the reason they purchase second-hand is to extend the lifecycle of that item, with over a third (35%) agreeing that they like items with a history.”

To prevent queues at stores, Ikea is encouraging customers to fill out an online offer request ahead of their visit. This automatically generates an offer that can be brought in-store.      

Closing the loop

The announcement comes after Ikea partnered with Gumtree, last October, to continue offering a closed-loop solution for used products amid lockdown.

Under that partnership, the two firms have created a dedicated search tool that enables customers to click and collect from Ikea stores. More than 10,000 recovered items have been sold through this channel to date with many customers making repeat purchases.

Elsewhere in Ikea’s plans to reach full circularity, the company’s sustainability report claims that 80% of home furnishing projects have now been assessed and approved against its circular design principles. In addition, more than 60% of the product range is based on renewable materials and more than 10% contains recycled content. Ikea expects around 60% of the polyester used to be recycled.

Sarah George 

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