More IKEA Stores for Russia, CIS

IKEA, the world's biggest home-furnishings retailer, is generating its strongest sales growth in Russia and expects that to continue as new outlets open and a 10th straight year of economic expansion stokes incomes.

Sales surged 50 percent from a year earlier in the country last month, compared with a 2 percent gain in Britain, Nick Peel, general director of the retailer's Dybenko store in St. Petersburg, said Wednesday. IKEA plans to increase its current 10 Russian stores to 25 there and in former Soviet states in five years as consumption strengthens, he said.

Foreign retailers from Kingfisher to Metro have flocked to Russia as local sales growth outpaces that of their domestic markets. Peel said the country might surpass Germany, Britain and France as IKEA's main European market in five to 10 years.

"The Russian economy is increasing rapidly," Peel said. "People have more money. The opportunity for us to expand is far greater in Russia, certainly, compared to the U.K."

IKEA, which opened its first Russian store eight years ago, will add four local outlets over the next year and plans to open its first Ukrainian store in the port city of Odessa in about two years, Peel said.

The furniture seller may also add an outlet in Minsk and Kazakh shops, Peel said. The company may invest $500 million in its first two malls in Kazakhstan, the country's government said in January.