Retailers enjoyed a "spectacular" Christmas, official data showed, with total sales growing at their fastest rate in years.

Video: Shop copy-cats target Ikea

After the closure of a fake Apple store, a furniture outlet has been accused of copying Swedish giant Ikea.

Business Diary: Flat-pack answer to housing crisis?

With just a year to go to the start of the Olympics, news reaches the Diary that Ikea has bid to build a 30-acre development of housing, offices and shops next to the Olympic Park in east London. Nightmares about puzzling, flat-packed, self-assembly 10-storey apartment blocks which always have one or two vital screws missing are far off the mark. A load of meatballs, if you like. Ikea is, in fact, an established housebuilder in Europe via its LandProp business. And the rumour that when you go into the homes they build you can only walk in one direction? Hopefully there's no truth to it.

Being modern: Ikea

Ikea: it has become almost as ubiquitous as childbirth and, similarly, though the experience may cause pain, we'll always go back for more.

Leading article: Sign of the times

It's not quite over; three Habitat stores will remain for the time being in London.

Claire Beale: Ikea makes a big impact in Cannes

On Advertising

The Insider: How to inject soul into an empty shell

A friend has just moved into a box-fresh rented flat – nice. But even with pictures up and Ikea purchases in, she said: "Looks a bit sterile, doesn't it?" It did. So how to banish that just-moved-in sheen?

Being Modern: Baby names

Time was you'd look to your grandparents for your newborn child's first name, or perhaps the monarch. George, Margaret, something respectable, with a crease to it. And then get back to the Home Service and the suet. But today? Well what you call your child will say as much about you and your – horrid word! – aspirations as the car in your driveway and those lumps from Ikea cluttering up your sitting-room: Kai, Jayden and Madison were all fast risers in the Office of National Statistics' last list of most popular baby names in England and Wales (2009), and where do they come from?

Pick and mix: How can you achieve the modern-vintage style without your home resembling a bric-a-brac stall?

Blending modern with vintage is harder to get right than you might think. Expert Emily Chalmers shows you how to perfect the look

Design with children in mind

An interior designer shares ten tips to creating a stylish child-friendly space, by Annie Deakin

Being Modern: Candles

Nothing says "I love you" like flowers. But nothing says "romantic" like candles. In the finest restaurants and hotels, at the smartest weddings – wherever, in fact, you wish to create an atmosphere conducive to gazing into the eyes of someone special – stick a few tea-lights in holders and voilà, the flicker of the flame a shorthand for instant intimacy.

Joanna Blythman: Ikea: is it time to bring back the chintz?

If you stop to think about it, Ikea is the Walmart of the furniture world, and yet it hasn't featured in the rogues' gallery of brands that anti-globalisation activists love to hate. This is surprising. With its brash, cloned, super-sized blue box developments on every continent but Africa, it offers an obvious target. At the very least, it is implicated in the death of traditional town centres caused by out-of-town retail parks and the decimation of smaller furniture manufacturers.

Is the secret of Ikea's thrifty founder out of the box?

The empire set up by Ingvar Kamprad is accused of siphoning billions into a tax haven

Ikea pieces together another gain in profits despite tough markets

The flat pack furniture giant Ikea has delivered a modest rise in annual profits, driven by an increase in sales and margins.

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Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
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