By Divya Chowdhury and Savio Shetty
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Ingka Group, the owner of most IKEA stores, sees demand in Europe to continue rising in the current fiscal year, driven by strong demand for home furnishings that has outlasted coronavirus lockdowns, the company's CEO said.
"We are right now optimistic that this would be a good year for us ... we predict growth for this year," Jesper Brodin said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos.
Interest in life-at-home products, a segment which saw an increased interest during the pandemic as people spent more time in their houses during lockdowns and working from home, has sustained, Brodin told the Reuters Global Markets Forum.
"Interest continues to be high. We see that in the numbers of visitations in our web, in our stores and also in our sales number," Brodin said.
"It seems to me that there is a longer effect of the pandemic," he said. "We see of course the continuous trend that people are investing in their home office."
Ingka Group, the main franchisee to brand owner Inter IKEA, which is in charge of supply, increased prices last year to offset higher input costs, counter soaring inflation and supply chain disruptions, and to compensate for its wind-down in Russia.
"While prices were increased last year, IKEA has started investing in decreasing prices of certain products this fiscal year," Brodin said.
Brodin said the business faced multiple risks from geopolitical tension, technological disruptions and climate change.
He said the company was investing in renewable energy and electric vehicles as well as looking at the raw materials it uses. "We want to make ourselves climate proof. We want our business to be long-term resilient," he said.
(Reporting by Divya Chowdhury in Davos and Savio Shetty in Mumbai; Editing by Alison Williams)