Baker’s daughter moves to save Karstadt

Ikea boss Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt will be the new head of struggling German department store chain Karstadt. She reportedly has a shake-up of all 83 branches up her sleeve, in a last ditch attempt to save the business.

Baker's daughter moves to save Karstadt
Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt. Photo: DPA

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The Swedish baker's daughter has been a respected part of Ikea's top management for years and will take up her new German post at the end of February 2014. The 47-year-old accepted the post on Wednesday and will be Karstadt’s sixth boss in the past 10 years.

Known for being engaged with staff of all levels, she has been hailed as a last chance for Karstadt to turn itself around. Plagued by strikes, financial problems and falling out of fashion, the chain may prove to be a challenge for Sjöstedt.

“I am absolutely convinced that you build a company up from its employees,” she said on Wednesday after accepting the role. From day one as her time as boss, Karstadt will have a more balanced approach towards creating a happy environment for the some 200,000 workers, while turning a profit, she said.

It is a completely different approach to departing British boss, Andrew Jennings. His lack of German created a distance between him and his workforce, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported. But Sjöstedt does not speak German either.

Language is not her only knowledge gap, the trained fashion designer has no prior experience with the German business market.

“I can't see what suitable qualifications Sjöstedt has,” said trade expert Thomas Roeb, adding that from what he could see, she had no experience with German business nor as a stand-alone boss.

But others are hailing the decision to swap a successful firm for a struggling one as brave. “She knows what it means to re-write rules, and to break them to be successful,” said restructuring expert Harald Linné from management firm Atreus.

He warned that the billionaire owner of the company, Thomas Berggruen, should be willing to invest some money in her plans. “Without money, this will not work,” said Linné.

READ MORE: Ikea sorry for East German prison labour

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Danish Ikea store shelters staff and customers overnight during snowstorm

Heavy snowfall left 31 people looking for a spare cushion at the Aalborg branch of Ikea on Wednesday as they were forced to spend the night at the store.

A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021.
A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Anyone who has found themselves wandering the mazy aisles of an Ikea might be able to empathise with the sense of being lost in the furniture store for a seemingly indefinite time.

Such a feeling was probably more real than usual for six customers and 25 staff members who were forced to spend the night at the furniture giant’s Aalborg branch after being snowed in.

Heavy snow in North Jutland brought traffic to a standstill and halted public transport in parts of the region on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a snow-in at Ikea.

“This is certainly a new situation for us,” Ikea Aalborg store manager Peter Elmose told local media Nordjyske, which first reported the story.

“It’s certainly not how I thought my day would end when I drove to work this morning,” Elmose added.

The 31 people gathered in the store’s restaurant area and planned to see Christmas television and football to pass the evening, the store’s manager reported to Nordjyske.

“Our kitchen staff have made sure there is hot chocolate, risalamande, pastries, soft drinks, coffee and the odd beer for us in light of the occasion. So we’ll be able to keep warm,” he said.

“We couldn’t just send them outside and lock the door behind them at our 8pm closing time. Absolutely not. So of course they’ll be staying here,” he added.

The temporary guests were given lodging in different departments of the store in view of the Covid-19 situation, Nordjyske writes.

“For us , the most important thing was to take care of each other and that everyone feels safe,” Elmose said.

At least Ikea’s stranded customers and staff had somewhere comfortable to lay their heads.

The same can unlikely be said for around 300 passengers at the city’s airport who had to stay overnight at the terminal.

The airport was forced to stop flights from 2:30pm yesterday amid worsening weather, which also prevented buses from transferring passengers to hotels.

“We have around 300 people in the terminal right now and have been giving out blankets on the assumption they will be staying here tonight,” Aalborg Airport operations manager Kim Bermann told Nordjyske.

READ ALSO: Ikea reopens in Denmark after country’s worst retail month this century