A Performance Bonus for IKEA

28 Jan

One of the most rewarding aspects of my relocation from Europe to America many years ago was the relative safety from IKEA enjoyed by the inhabitants of this continent. For me and many of my friends in the old world, the Swedish giant, ubiquitous in every European country was synonymous with freezing Saturdays when the football team for which I played had its match canceled.

On those dark days, instead of running past a packed defence before unleashing a pile-driver of a shot into the top corner of the net and accepting the plaudits of my teammates as I trotted back to the halfway line*, I would find myself trudging past flat-packed furniture before unleashing an anguished curse at the sight of the queues at check-out and exchanging rueful glances with team-mates as we trudged back to our cars. It was, we were frequently reminded, the least we could do in exchange for all the crap footie matches that our wives and girlfriends had dutifully endured from the touchline.

America’s claim to be the home of freedom may be a bit of a stretch these days, but until about five years ago, across large swathes of the country, you could at least breathe the freedom from IKEA stores. There was a cheerful innocence about the place, as people went about their business unaware of the looming danger, and when IKEA opened a mere 50 miles away from us, it was too late.

Today IKEA’s boss, Peter Agnefjall, reported record profits worldwide, helped by growth in China, Russia and the US. Well, Pete, I don’t know about China and Russia, but as far as the the US is concerned, I for one am not surprised, after what I witnessed in your Charlotte, North Carolina store at the weekend. As I plodded towards the checkout behind my wife and daughters, I noticed a small boy staring intently at a box of batteries he had picked up. They were IKEA store brand AA batteries, about thirty of them packed into a long thin carton. After a few moments, he turned to his father, a stringy country boy with goatee and camouflage tee shirt, the kind of chap who is proud to be labeled a redneck, and asked, “Hey, Dad, are these bullets?”

If IKEA of all places has succeeded in drawing in that most unlikely of demographics, southern rednecks and their eight year old boys who are more familiar with bullets than AA batteries, is it any wonder that their profits are soaring? You deserve your performance bonus, Mr. Agnefjall.

* This is my blog. I will remember the level of my performances on the football field in any way I choose to.

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