John Lewis plans to become UK’s biggest homeware retailer

<p>Boss says he wants to overtake Ikea within four years.</p>

Swedish homeware giant Ikea first arrived on the UK market in 1987. Over the course of nearly 30 years, the company has grown to become the UK's biggest seller of homeware, offering everything from flatpack furniture, chairs and lighting to refrigerators, ovens, dishes and potted plants.

The Scandinavian company has even become famous for its food. For many Britons, a trip to buy furniture wouldn't be complete without a plate of Swedish meatballs and gravy – and if you're not hungry, you can buy a bag frozen for later.

But, Ikea might be seeing an increase in competition, as John Lewis managing director Andy Street has thrown down the metaphorical gauntlet.

He plans for his company to knock Ikea off its top spot within four years. John Lewis has recently spent £14 million revamping its flagship Oxford Street store – the finished result will be unveiled next week – and the firm intends to spend millions updating the rest of its shops as well.

Mr Street noted that John Lewis has seen positive figures in recent yeas.

"If you look at the trading results for the last five years, ever since the recession really, we have gained market share significantly," he said.

According to retail consultancy Conlumino, Ikea will account for six per cent of homeware, furniture and flooring sales this year. John Lewis will have 5.8 per cent of the market.

"Now we are clearly second in the market behind Ikea – and clearly first in lots of categories – but we will overtake Ikea. I am not sure exactly when, but I am more than happy to predict it will be within the next four years, at the pace we are closing the gap at the moment," the John Lewis boss added.

Next steps

Following the opening of the refurbished Oxford Street store, Mr Street says he will turn his attention to opening a new John Lewis store in Birmingham. After that, they will start to focus on Black Friday. The traditionally American shopping event at the end of November has crossed the Atlantic and marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It's expected to be the biggest online shopping day so far in Britain.

This year, John Lewis is preparing for Black Friday sales to be 20 per cent or higher, Mr Street said.

"We are planning for about 20 per cent uplift [...] so the server capacity we need for online, the staffing rotas for our shops, the deals with all of our suppliers – it is all being done and I expect us to have, as last year, a clear run in the runup to Christmas. That is hard in this logistics world now."

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