- IKEA acquired TaskRabbit last month for an undisclosed price.
- TaskRabbit’s platform lets you hire people to do odd jobs, from cleaning to assembling furniture.
- “We need to offer services” to “become more relevant,” IKEA UK CEO says.
LONDON — IKEA’s acquisition of gig economy company TaskRabbit is part of the 74-year old furniture company’s efforts to modernise the company, according to IKEA’s UK CEO.
IKEA surprised the market last month by buying US startup TaskRabbit, a platform that lets people hire temporary workers to do odd jobs ranging from cleaning homes to running errands — and even assembling furniture. Anyone can join the platform to do casual work and earn a bit of money.
Gillian Drakeford, IKEA’s UK CEO, told Business Insider in an interview this week: “IKEA can’t do everything itself. When we look at the gig economy, the platform economy, this has the ability to bring people together that have skills and experiences.”
IKEA already offered installation services for big-ticket items but Drakeford said the company realised that there was a gap in the market for smaller, cheaper jobs.
“It could be something like hanging a curtain rail or a mirror — it’s not just installing a kitchen.”
IKEA trialled a partnership with TaskRabbit in the UK last year.
“What we saw very clearly was that there were lots of people assembling IKEA furniture via TaskRabbit — IKEA experts,” Drakeford said.
“I met one of the Taskers who had been assembling a Hemnes Day Bed over a number of years and he could see the development in the product in order to reduce the assembly time. He was as passionate as many of our coworkers were.”
The acquisition forms part of IKEA’s efforts to “become more relevant to the customer,” Drakeford said.
“It’s not enough just to have a great product with a great price. We need to offer services. People are saying there’s value to time — I don’t have the time to assemble it myself. I don’t necessarily have the time to install things myself. Actually, I’m looking for services from you.”
The Financial Times reported earlier this month that IKEA has set up a special team to look for more acquisitions following the TaskRabbit deal.
Asked what other deals IKEA might pursue, Drakeford said: “Whatever we engage in, it will be about moving IKEA to be a more relevant brand for the many people.”
She added: “I think today about the work their doing in Sweden — a lot of [IKEA] products there are already in the second-hand market. They have worked together with the schemes to ensure that’s connected to our website. If I’m shopping for a sofa and I can’t afford the price today, I’m offered a second hand or upcycled product. This is one of the areas where I think we’ll need to work with others.”