IKEA Wants You to Lease Its Furniture
Or, if you’re feeling thrifty, you can buy refurbished furniture right off a lease.
IKEA’s cheap prices, wide availability, and stylish designs changed furniture forever. Suddenly, a nice-looking item didn’t have to be priced as if it would last for life. The company is leaning into that idea with a new pilot program, reported by the Financial Times, that works much like car leasing: you rent furniture for a set amount of time, then return it for a new lease.
IKEA’s reputation for short-lived furniture isn’t totally fair; plenty of their products are sturdy and smartly made. (Hint: Stick to solid wood, metal, and glass!) But even those compressed-wood-chip couches, chairs, and shelves might be desirable if you don’t expect that they’ll last forever.
The new furniture leasing program will begin as a pilot for business offices in Switzerland. Lessees will sign up to lease furniture for a set period of time, and at the end of the lease, will have to return the furniture to IKEA. The company, with an eye to both making a second profit and trying to cut down on waste, will refurbish and sell those leased items at a discount.
The Swedish furniture giant had a tough year, with Reuters reporting this past November that profits were down 26 percent. Still, IKEA is perhaps the biggest global name in consumer furniture, and has the influence to try something new, like a leasing service.
IKEA’s CEO told the Financial Times that the pilot program could pave the way for a subscription program, theoretically like Netflix or Spotify, though he didn’t elaborate on how that would work. However, a lease model would be good for the environment. In 2013, it was reported that IKEA used a startling one percent of the entire world’s commercial wood supply, and IKEA’s CEO said that the company is striving hard to reduce its carbon footprint.
IKEA hasn’t released any information about when the service might roll out to stores and customers in other countries, or what the service will cost.