The inclusion of IKEA products in the list of goods for which parallel imports are allowed runs counter to the need to restrict the Russian market from supplying furniture from "unfriendly" countries.
"Now there is a rather paradoxical situation – the markets of "unfriendly" countries are closed for us, at the same time European manufacturers feel quite at ease in the Russian domestic market and supply us with their furniture," says Timur Irtuganov, CEO of the Association of furniture and woodworking enterprises of Russia (AMDPR). "We have prepared a number of proposals for the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation and propose to introduce a duty of up to 50% on furniture from Europe."
According to AMDPR estimates, until 2022 IKEA's share in the Russian furniture market did not exceed 3%, and the main consumers of Swedish goods were residents of megacities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. After the departure of IKEA, that insignificant niche of the domestic market was successfully occupied by domestic furniture manufacturers who managed to offer customers products that are not inferior to the Swedish brand either in quality or price.
"In fact, even now there are no restrictions for IKEA to supply its furniture to the Russian market – there are no prohibitions. We see that this is not being done, which means that the Russian consumer has no need for it," says Alexander Shestakov, President of AMDPR, General Director of the First Furniture Factory. – Russian furniture makers immediately replaced all IKEA product categories, the Russian consumer did not feel any difference."
"Russian furniture manufacturers immediately after IKEA announced its withdrawal from the country, back in the spring of 2022, brought to the market the most popular lines of furniture products sold in the stores of the Swedish company. The whole process took no more than a month – after all, all IKEA furniture was produced in Russia, at Russian factories and factories," confirms Sergey Radchenko, chairman of the supervisory board of the Angstrom furniture factory.
"There is no shortage of furniture in Russia – every consumer can find anything he wants. Russian furniture factories produce a full range of products for every taste and budget. This was made possible thanks to the active development of the domestic furniture industry in the last eight years, a clear adherence to the course announced by the President of the country back in 2014 on import substitution. Over the years, Russian furniture companies have invested billions of rubles and dollars in the implementation of major investment projects, modernization of production, new technologies, the revival of the domestic school of furniture design and the training of qualified personnel. And, as the year 2022 showed, this work has borne fruit – Russian consumers voted for Russian furniture," says Alexander Shestakov, President of the AMDPR.
"In specialized furniture centers there are products that Russian enterprises produced by IKEA orders until 2022. The statistics of demand and sales last year unequivocally confirms that it is not popular with customers – it is the most common furniture, which without the "pillow-meatball" entourage of the Swedish company's stores turns into average economy segment products. Most consumers choose furniture collections designed by Russian manufacturers," Alexander Shestakov emphasizes.
Historically, all IKEA furniture was manufactured and assembled in Russia, in addition, the Swedes exported a significant amount of products from their Russian divisions, the head of the Association notes. With the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions and after the departure of IKEA, the domestic furniture industry lost about 40% of exports, which in 2022 in monetary terms amounted to 18 billion rubles, of which almost 9 billion rubles accounted for Russian IKEA enterprises. "Due to the sanctions, Russian furniture companies have lost opportunities to develop in the promising markets of Europe and the USA, and this niche is actively occupied by furniture makers in China and Belarus. Our enterprises, without any support from the state and state institutions, are forced to invest heavily in the development of completely new markets for themselves in the Middle East, North Africa and other friendly regions. Against this background, the idea of including European IKEA furniture in the list of parallel imports and allowing an unfriendly company that left the country to work in the domestic market seems at least illogical, at most contrary to the state policy of import substitution. And in the current geopolitical and economic realities, IKEA's parallel import is a slap in the face of the entire Russian furniture industry," Alexander Shestakov emphasizes.
AMDPR is confident that today the Russian state needs, first of all, to support its furniture industry, in particular, to help it enter new export markets and look for ways to restore lost positions on those already won, and not to facilitate the return to the domestic market of companies from unfriendly countries. As one of the priority measures, the Association considers it necessary to expand the experience of the Russian Export Center in bringing agricultural enterprises and the furniture industry to foreign markets. "The organization and support of permanent furniture showrooms and warehouses at the expense of the state would help us a lot. Without this, the delivery of furniture products abroad becomes much more complicated due to lengthy customs procedures, which, in turn, increases the risks associated with the fulfillment of contract terms for both the supplier and the customer," says Alexander Shestakov.