Native son returns home to lead IKEA Canada as president
BURLINGTON, Ontario – Company veteran Michael Ward has been named president/country retail manager of IKEA Canada, this country’s second largest furniture retailer. He transitioned from his global role as regional retail manager on 01 January 2019 and succeeds Marsha Smith, who is returning to the United Kingdom in another role for the global home furnishing giant.
“Having begun my IKEA career in Mississauga over 30 years ago, it is a huge privilege to return home to lead the Canadian organisation,” Ward said in a statement. “These are exciting times for IKEA Canada and I look forward to my role in leading the organisation through our transformation journey to become the leading multi-channel home furnishings retailer in Canada.”
Ward’s extensive career at IKEA began with what started out as a one-year internship program in 1986. From there he quickly progressed to hold various positions with increased responsibilities at IKEA Canada, and then moved onto IKEA globally where he held strategic leadership roles in Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States.
“Michael has a passion for retail with a proven track record of driving growth and leading through change on both a country and a global level,” the company said in making the announcement.
Born in Ontario, the company said Ward’s mandate will be to lead the transformation of the Canadian business to create a more affordable, accessible, convenient and sustainable shopping experience for the IKEA customer. Throughout this transformation, IKEA will explore new store formats, enhance the in-store experience, invest in new digital experiences, improve its service offer and optimise its distribution networks.
“We have had healthy growth in Canada, and we know we are in a rapidly changing retail environment,” Ward said. “Urbanisation, new technology and digitalisation have all changed the way our customers live and shop. To create the IKEA of tomorrow, we will transform to meet our customers in the best possible way, whenever, wherever and however they choose to shop.”
Former IKEA Canada president Marsha Smith will join IKEA United Kingdom and Ireland in a management role, responsible for driving growth and brand positioning of key market areas within that country. “For the past two years, Marsha has led IKEA Canada with a strong passion for co-workers, customers and a determination to create a better everyday life for the many people. Marsha will remain with the Canadian organization until the end of February,” the company said.
During her tenure, IKEA Canada opened two new full-sized stores in Halifax and Quebec City.
IKEA has been in Canada for more than 40 years. Sales for its fiscal year ending 31 August 2018 were $2.39 billion, an increase of 8% over its previous year. About 10% of revenue was generated by its e-commerce activities as its web site hosted 104 million visitors. It operates14 stores, an e-commerce virtual store, five pick-up and order points and 17 collection points and welcomed some 30 million visitors to its stores.