Ilva furniture chain to hire for war with Ikea

Danish furniture retailer Ilva is poised to bring in PR agency support for its rollout in Britain later this year as it goes head-to-head with Swedish rival Ikea.

Ilva, which intends to open 20 superstores in the UK in the next decade, is yet to unveil details of its marketing strategy but has identified major potential for growth in Britain.

It emerged earlier this month that Ilva - a household name in Denmark with a product range similar to Ikea's - has already contracted London ad agency Isobel to support the opening of its first UK stores.

Ilva is run from Denmark by former Habitat and B&Q chief executive Martin Toogood. He declined to comment on Ilva's UK plans but his office confirmed that the appointment of a PR firm 'will happen, but has not yet been decided'.

The first three stores will be in Manchester, Gateshead and at the Thurrock retail park in Essex. Construction of the Manchester store, in the Piccadilly Basin area, is under way.

Meanwhile, Ilva has sealed a deal to take over Marks & Spencer's Lifestore in Gateshead - in close proximity to an Ikea outlet. Its Thurrock shop would also be a former Lifestore site.

Toogood led a buyout of Ilva by private equity firm Advent International just over two years ago.

In addition to the UK, it is also expanding in Sweden, with its first store planned outside Malmo.

The company has a seven-strong in-house comms department in Denmark.

Ikea gained negative headlines earlier this year when a riot broke out at the overcrowded opening of a store in Edmonton, north London.

Ikea is promoted by Cooke & Brand PR and PDS Media for Scottish stores.

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