Border controls are an obstacle to growth and increase commuters’ journey time by over half an hour every day, which is affecting the labour market in the Öresund region negatively, comments Skåne county council in a report for the government.
Large companies, such as Ikea, view the controls as an obstacle to future growth. They “affect not only journeys across the bridge but delay other rail travel… We need to recruit in Malmö, Helsingborg and Älmhut and recruitment is affected negatively by the checks,” says Sara Paulsson, from Ikea.
The Ikea group is putting a new record year behind it. Globally total sales increased by 7.1% to 34.2 billion euros, around SKr 326 billion. E-commerce represents 12% of growth.
“The growth is driven by everything food related. We see that it is a good platform for continued growth and that the strategy we have put in place is working. We are growing in our existing stores and as long as we see continued good growth there, it will take a lot of expansion to beat that,” says Ikea President Peter Agnefjäll.
At the end of 2017 Ikea enters a new market with over a billion inhabitants when it opens its first store in Hyderabad in India. Peter Agnefjäll says that Ikea is planning to open stores in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi as well over the next few years.
Several organisations are critical of Ikea after SvD reported the furniture giant’s rug supplier in Egypt had links to the Mubarak regime.
Kathleen McCaughey from Amnesty says she was shocked by Ikea’s reaction to the reports, that Ikea said it was a good supplier and that one should not get involved in the politics of countries. She believes Ikea’s stance dismisses international regulations and the framework for guiding principles for companies and human rights.
As IKEA’s plans to expand in India take hold, French MEP, Eva Joly, and her colleagues have produced a report showing the furniture giant has avoided paying at least 1 billion euros, SKr 9.5 billion, in tax over the past six years. The European Commission is now to investigate IKEA’s set-up.
IKEA minimises its tax by moving money between different parts of the group and between different countries. The Commission recently introduced a proposal to tighten legislation on tax avoidance, but according to Eva Joly this will not fill all the loopholes. She says, “It is damaging for all of society. Remember the French Revolution started because the nobility did not pay tax. Today multinational companies and the rich manage to avoid tax and that is a reminder of the old French regime.”
IKEA points out that the company pays its taxes, “completely in accordance with national and international tax regulations”.