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article imageIKEA Australia disrupts market by selling solar panels 'at cost'

By Karen Graham     Feb 17, 2018 in World
Swedish furniture giant IKEA is planning to sell solar panels “at cost” in its Australian stores - And the news has been met with mixed reviews, especially from the local solar industry. But IKEA wants only one thing - A bigger market share.
IKEA has been a well-known destination for shoppers in Australia. However, the IKEA Australia branch of the company only has a six percent share of the market and they want to double that to 12 percent.
IKEA Australia's new boss, Jan Gardberg, has come up with a brilliant plan to double their market share quickly, taking advantage of the booming solar market "down-under." Besides seeing cheaper products in its stores, there will be a number of "pop-up" IKEA stores and more online shopping bargains.
But the most radical move and one that is already creating a lot of discussions is IKEA's plan to roll out cheap solar panels to take pressure off electricity bills. Gardberg aired the company's PV panel plans in an interview with 9 News on Tuesday night.
“We have already introduced (solar panels) into the UK market and in Poland and something similar in Japan, and I and the team would like to find a way to introduce that to the Australian market,” he told Channel 9’s, Ross Greenwood.
“It would actually be cost-neutral because we believe this to be another positive way that we, as a big company, can contribute to the sustainable life at home for the many people in Australia.” Gardberg previously ran Ikea in Russia and China, but for him, Australia is a challenge of scale.
A picture of a Swedish IKEA.
A picture of a Swedish IKEA.
Sbotig, Panoramafotos.net via Wikimedia
Solar energy the IKEA way
IKEA has been selling solar panels manufactured by Hanergy, a large Chinese manufacturer of solar panels since 2013. Since partnering with Hanergy, IKEA says it is keeping everything from manufacturing through to sales in-house, keeping its costs lower than the competition.
Founded in 1998, Solar Century is the UK's largest solar company. And in August 2017, IKEA announced it had partnered with SolarCentury to sell their solar batteries. Now, IKEA was able to offer the complete package, all in one place.
So far, there has been no definite information put out on exactly when, or how the sale of solar in IKEA stores in Australia will take place, or which product brands will be used. Talking about the solar panels, Gardberg said, "We have already introduced that into the UK market and in Poland and something similar in Japan, and I and the team would like to find a way to introduce that to the Australian market."
Broken Hill solar plant  New South Wales  2016.
Broken Hill solar plant, New South Wales, 2016.
Jeremy Buckingham
What does this mean for Australia?
Right off, remember that Australia is in the middle of a solar energy boom, with more than 110MW of registrations completed in January – a 69 percent increase on the previous January. Solar farm approvals and rooftop installations are expected to "turbo-boost" production.
However, under-selling of solar panels and batteries at the expense of downgrading industry standards is a risky undertaking. There are already slim margins of profit, as it is, and IKEA's move could lead to lowering the quality of installations as perhaps, unqualified installers pop up.
And you know how relevant comments on social media can be, right? A Facebook page called "Crap Solar" has some comments that might end up confusing consumers interested in solar panels, especially those being sold by IKEA. Just take any comments you read with a grain of salt.
More about Ikea, Australia, Google, Solar panels, at cost, solar industry