The secret behind the store of the year

Dedicated co-workers pave the way for IKEA Hospitalet (Barcelona) to win the very first IKEA store award.

Barcelonca store co-workers

It all started as an idea to recognize all the hard work that IKEA co-workers do daily in the stores. Strategies, plans and directions are all important in building success. But if they’re not carried out in the IKEA stores, nothing happens. To show some of the best store examples, a new IKEA store award was introduced. Each year one of the more than 360 IKEA stores in the world will be given the award.

No method is stronger than the best example 

Out of 34 nominated stores, five made it to the final but only one store stood as the best example for 2013 – IKEA Hospitalet in Barcelona, Spain.

So what made IKEA Hospitalet the winner? It wasn’t the sales result. Nor was IKEA Hospitalet the biggest store.

No, IKEA Hospitalet was the store that demonstrated a strong ability to be well balanced and had managed to turn a tough situation into a great business opportunity. Spain has long suffered from economic crisis, which has led to a high unemployment rate. That, in combination with a cannibal effect from a new IKEA store opening in the Barcelona area, put IKEA Hospitalet in a corner. It was clear that something different needed to be done. And it needed to be done fast.

Leadership and devoted co-workers 

Strong leadership and devoted co-workers form a symbiosis always needed for development and change. The store management team joined forces with the over 500 co-workers in order to work together and used somewhat unconventional methods to get great results. Alberto Fossati, Store Manager at IKEA Hospitalet, explains:

“Often the first reaction during an economic crisis is to let people go. But when you do that you also lose a lot of competence. We decided that all of us are going to share the bill and offered co-workers less hours temporarily. That meant that we kept the competence in our store. For co-workers it meant avoiding unemployment in an already difficult job market. Now that the situation is improving, we try to give them the hours back.”

Alberto also talks about having a clear direction that placed focus on the work that needed to be done. A strong sense of empowerment was given to co-workers in the front line to execute, to train each other and to act.

“A good store is built on competent and committed co-workers. Every co-worker knows how he or she contributes to the result and we let them drive the business. We always try to do things a little better, which is why we established a philosophy that guides us in everything we do,” says Alberto.

More committed co-workers, more great ideas 

The list of good ideas seems never-ending when looking into what IKEA Hospitalet did that led them to winning the award. Their marketing focused on attracting more new and returning customers. Sales, communication, interior design and logistics worked with the product offer to stimulate home furnishing interest and provide what visitors needed. More service was offered in financing. Special attention was also given to attracting teenagers and a special “teen area” was created in the Showroom. IKEA Hospitalet also put extra emphasis on getting the basics right and getting the store in shape as new, every day, from 10.00 to 22.00.

The result we know.

Visitors from all over the world 

Since the award announcement in February 2014, days have been busy at IKEA Hospitalet. From all over the world IKEA co-workers have travelled to the store to find the secret recipe behind the success.

“The award was a motivational boost. Now we know we can achieve great things together. The team is working even harder, because we know that this doesn’t mean that we are the best, only that we are on the right track,” says Benito Ramirez Dominguez.

Store of the year award

10 co-workers won a trip to Älmhult 

While the world was travelling to Barcelona, 10 co-workers from IKEA Hospitalet travelled to Älmhult, which was part of the award. For a week they stayed in southern Sweden, getting to know the heart of IKEA, especially in regards to culture and values.

“The experience was amazing and I could get to know the IKEA organisations in Älmhult better, and the roots of Småland. The IKEA culture and values are present in our daily work, the values are the reference or basis for us to work better and better day by day,” says Maria del Carmen Rueda Graván.

No recipe for winning 

The nomination for the IKEA store award 2014 has just closed. Each country has nominated one store and the second Store Award winner will be announced in February 2015. And even though IKEA stores now seek the secret recipe behind the store of the year, it won’t be found, according to one of the co-workers at IKEA Hospitalet:

Store of the year award

“There is no ‘recipe for winning’. What led us to winning the award was a mix of multiple factors, but in the end, all those figures and facts, come down to people. The vision, the attitude towards customers and the way we face difficulties are some of the key aspects.”