(Adds details, quotes from interview)
By Daina Beth Solomon
MEXICO CITY, May 22 (Reuters) - IKEA, the world’s largest furniture seller, will open its first store in Mexico next year and plans to launch other stores around the country, the company said on Wednesday, as it expands in Latin America to counter growing competition in its core U.S. and European markets.
The Swedish chain known for its modern and inexpensive designs plans to open a store in eastern Mexico City in the fall of 2020 and also sell its products online, Malcolm Pruys, the country retail manager for IKEA Mexico, said at an event in the capital.
IKEA also plans to target a number of other cities of varying sizes throughout the country, he added in an interview. “We’re setting a reasonably aggressive expansion plan,” he said.
The first store will be medium-sized, offering 7,500 products and a restaurant able to seat more than 650 people, with a warehouse off-site for e-commerce.
IKEA’s traditional model has called for vast warehouses on city outskirts packed with goods. But the retailer has recently developed compact formats, allowing it to branch into smaller cities, Pruys said.
IKEA has 427 stores across 52 markets. Stores in Europe and the United States drive the majority of sales for Inter IKEA Group and its franchisees, but rival retailers, especially online, are increasingly vying for shoppers.
Late last year, IKEA announced plans to enter Latin America, including Chile, Colombia and Peru.
The plans to launch in Mexico began four years ago. On Wednesday, several IKEA executives met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was pleased by Ikea’s confidence in Mexico, Pruys said.
“There is great movement in Mexico around cleaning up corruption,” he said. “We think there’s a big opportunity for Mexico’s economy to continue to grow.”
IKEA is working on plans for a variety of payment options for online shopping, aiming to reach Mexico’s vast unbanked population, he added. (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Julia Love, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)