- Swed House, an Ikea copycat, opened its first store in Moscow Saturday, Reuters reported.
- The Belarusian chain is trying to fill a void left when the Swedish retailer pulled out of Russia.
- Some customers told Reuters the store had a messy layout and was too small.
Russian consumers have had their options severely curtailed since Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine after most Western retailers abandoned the country.
They’re having to put up with some inferior copycat versions of their favorite chains, such as the McDonald’s clone that opened last summer, or Stars Coffee – aka Starbucks.
Ikea also halted its operations in Russia in March 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine. It said in June it was scaling down its remaining presence and halting the export of its products to the country.
After the flat-pack furniture giant made its move, a chain from neighboring Belarus is now trying to take its place.
However, it seems some customers who went along after Swed House opened its doors in Moscow on Saturday were less than impressed with the attempt to mimic the Swedish chain.
That’s despite up to a fifth of its range being genuine Ikea products, Swed House general director Mamedali Kasymov told Reuters.
“Nobody prohibited us from doing this … our own Swed House goods are in big demand as well,” he said.
The head of the Union of Shopping Centers, Bulat Shakirov, told Russian news agency TASS that Swed House could open up to 10 stores in Moscow this year.
Some customers who spoke to Reuters were generally disappointed with the layout and presentation of the store, leaving many longing for the real Ikea.
“Goods must not be just lying on top of each other. Ikea had a certain approach to product placement … you could lie on beds, test the furniture,” one customer, Iohann, told the news agency. “If these guys want to improve, the road ahead is still very long.”
Other customers told Reuters the store was too small compared with an Ikea outlet.
“We have been missing IKEA a lot lately,” said Natalia.
Swed House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.