Ikea is to start renting out furniture as part of attempts to build a more environmentally friendly business.
The world’s largest furniture retailer said it wanted to test out the idea of leasing office furniture such as desks and chairs to business customers, starting in Switzerland. However, kitchens could also potentially be rented rather than sold in future.
The leasing strategy is part of Ikea’s wider effort to design and sell goods that can be repaired, reused, recycled or resold and promote services that prolong the life of a product.
“You could say leasing is another way of financing a kitchen. When this circular model is up and running, we have a much bigger interest in not just selling a product but seeing what happens with it and that the consumer takes care of it,” Torbjorn Lööf, the chief executive of Inter Ikea, which owns the Ikea brand, told the Financial Times (£).
He said the Swedish company is also considering launching its own spare parts business so that customers can replace components, such as hinges or screws, for furniture no longer stocked in Ikea’s stores.
Ikea has said it wants to source 100% of its wood and paper from more sustainable sources by 2020 and it plans to ditch fossil fuels by 2030.
The company has invested more than €1.7bn (£1.5bn) in renewable energy including wind farms and rooftop solar, owns more than 100,000 hectares of forest and has put money into a plastics recycling business as part of its efforts to build a more environmentally sustainable business.
This week Ikea will open what it says will be its most sustainable store yet in Greenwich, London.
Services available will include a “learning lab” where shoppers can find out how to refurbish or repurpose old furnishings.
The developments come after Ikea’s profits fell by more than a third last year as it invested in its online business and tested smaller city-centre stores.
Last year it said it was cutting 7,500 office jobs worldwide, including 350 in the UK, to focus on improving its online operation and city-centre format.