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IKEA offers cash, larger discounts to help staff weather soaring living costs

FILE PHOTO: IKEA opens its store in Nice

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - IKEA retailer Ingka Group is launching a 10 million euro ($10 million) social fund and bigger staff discounts to support employees struggling to cope with higher living costs.

Ingka, the owner of most IKEA furniture stores, said the fund would support its "most cash-strapped" staff throughout its fiscal year to the end of August.

"Each Ingka Group country will give support to co-workers who may need 'one-off' financial assistance to, for example, pay electricity bills or for housing costs," it said in a statement on Thursday.

A group spokesperson said the fund would be available in all Ingka's 31 markets, and the money would not be a loan. All staff would be able to apply and the company would assess on a case-by-case basis how much they may receive.

The employer of around 170,000 across 31 markets said it would also double staff discounts to 30% in its store-in-store food markets and on more than 2,000 energy-saving products such as water saving taps, light bulbs, bedspreads and appliances.

"The cost-of-living crisis is hitting many people hard. Some more than others," it said. "We want to be able to support co-workers through this time, while balancing the needs of our business, always guided by our values."

Companies across Europe are implementing ways to help staff with surging food and energy bills over the winter.

The Ingka spokesperson said it was difficult to say at this point how many would seek help from the fund.

"Like many people and businesses around the world, we find ourselves in a new reality, triggered by the energy crisis and rising inflation," she said.

"This extra support is meant to support co-workers faced with unforeseen costs they couldn’t possibly have planned for."

The company was also looking into other additional compensation enhancements after it invested in growing employees' compensation and benefits over the last several years, she said.

($1 = 1.0052 euros)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)