Record profits at Ikea after a year of global growth

Swedish retail giant Ikea has delivered record annual profits, driven by cash-strapped consumers seeking out its flat-pack furniture globally.

Alongside its results, Ikea's chief executive attacked government planning regulations in Europe for slowing down its expansion in the region, which accounts for the bulk of the group's business.

Mikael Ohlsson said it previously took between two and four years to complete the planning and construction of stores but added it now takes up to eight years.

Ikea, which was established in Sweden in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, grew its net profit by 8 per cent to €3.2bn (£2.6bn) over the year to 31 August. This was driven by a 9.8 per cent rise in sales to €27.6bn by its operations in 44 countries, as well as a "continued" focus on costs.

Mr Ohlsson said: "People around the world are more value conscious and appreciate beautifully designed and functional home-furnishing solutions at affordable prices.

"In financial year 2012, we managed to grow in most markets. The markets where we grew the most were China, Russia and Poland, closely followed by the US and Germany.

"We opened 11 new stores and welcomed 8,000 more co-workers."

Ikea, which has 18 UK stores, plans to open another shop in Reading but declined to provide a timeframe. The retailer cited market-share gains in the home-furnishing sector, as it grew its UK sales by 6.3 per cent to £1.23bn in 2011-12 but did not disclose profits.

Ikea UK's pre-tax profits tumbled by 34 per cent to £23.6m over the year to 31 August 2011, according to its latest accounts at Companies House.

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