Inside IKEA Hyderabad store on opening day: Band, baaja, bedlam

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Industries Minister K.T. Rama Rao, the IKEA leadership team led by Group CEO Jesper Brodin and the first customer Rajani Venugopal cut the ribbon thus formally throwing open the doors of the first store, on which the company had invested ₹1,000 crore.

Some 380 million Indians, a population bigger than the entire USA, will join the middle class in the seven years through 2022.

The Swedish furniture giant just opened its first store in Hyderabad, ready to cater to the furniture and meatball needs of the world's fastest growing middle class.

The store was teeming with customers in the evening, which swelled to over 40,000 customers by the time store closed at 11 pm.

Sourcing from India for over 30 years, Ikea is not new to the country.

After all, it was IKEA's very first store in India.

While Hyderabad citizens were excited to visit the store, a huge traffic jam occurred in the HITEC City, where the IKEA store is located. "I have a list of items to be purchased, but my wife and I are finding it hard to navigate our way here and have to ask for assistance all the time", he added.

The location will be IKEA's fifth store in Texas and the southern-most location in the state. "We plan to refurbish it". It designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories.

Products tailored to Indian tastes - lunchboxes with multiple compartments, pans to cook Indian flatbread, mattresses with coconut fibres.

Instead of beef or pork, the company's signature meatballs - nearly as famous as its "Billy" bookshelves - will be either chicken or vegetarian.

The furniture lineup includes more folding chairs and stools - flexible seating - for Indian households where relatives tend to pop in.

While Indians may be getting richer, creating an apparent golden opportunity for IKEA as in other emerging economies, spending levels remain low. And since children often sleep in the same room as their parents, one model bedroom includes a child's bed amid all the furniture.

Laying a greater emphasis on affordability, Ikea has priced over 1,000 products out of total 7,500 below Rs 200.

Venkatesh Pola, a 38-year-old pharmacist from a nearby town, who'd bought a stool and some glassware, said he loved the store's automatic checkout. Here, I am fascinated by the variety and I feel there is a lot to shop.

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