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Lennart Dahlgren answers to readers' questions

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Lennart Dahlgren - the first CEO of IKEA campaign in Russia. Under his leadership, has developed into the company in Russia. In March of this year in Russia, a book of memories Lennart Dahlgren about his life and work in Russia. Read his answers to readers' questions

- Sometimes you have to advise the company, considering the Russian market. Do you recommend them to invest in Russia?

- Working in Russia, I encountered a lot of problems - only some of them are described in the book. Nevertheless, I believe that in any other country, we would not have so quickly achieved such success. When I say this, I usually do not believe, but it's a fact. We have invested in Russia $ 4-5 billion - more than somewhere else. Russia - the most comfortable country in the world to build a large-scale business. Though if you're a business owner, you need to understand that here it is necessary to send a young and ambitious people, enthusiasts.

- How do you control their managers that they are not involved in corruption?

- It's easy. Corruption in the budget is not laid. And at IKEA for all you have to report the check. Corruption manager does not report back, so it does not remain a penny.

- But still recently IKEA has dismissed two managers?

- I'm not very interested in discussing corruption, because there is no such question - to give bribes or not. You can talk about ethics. There are obvious bribes: I take a million dollars and stuff it into the pocket of the mayor. But there are less obvious cases. As you know, there is black, white, and in the middle - a large gray area. Speaking about corruption, I must say that the Swedish perception of corruption and the perception of Russians are very different. What you are willing to endure, for us, undisguised corruption. Here's an example for you. My relative became ill and went to the hospital. Imagine that someone will ask a doctor or nurse to look after him better - and promises to give money. For us it is absolutely impossible. This is corruption, criminal action. Or another example. On Christmas, employees of companies are given gifts. So, in Sweden you can not accept a gift worth more than 500 rubles for your money. Therefore, you see, I do not have to talk to my managers about corruption. But even from an economic point of view, bribes are an ineffective way to solve problems. Once you give a bribe - and all at once will find out about it. Then they will check how many of you can be extorted, and then you will cry and run home. You pay them a ruble - and you're lost forever.

- In the book you talk, as they could not obtain the necessary permits from the leadership of the Moscow region. And then you have made a donation to the children's sports development, and everything changed. This is not corruption?

"Oh, no, that's quite another matter. In some stores IKEA comes more than 55 million visitors per year. No shopping center in the world accepts so many visitors. Imagine how many people, cars, what infrastructure. How many people swear at us, trying to leave Sheremetyevo! Therefore, when planning the opening of a new store, we always discuss infrastructure such as bridges and roads. And together with this we discuss social projects - not only in Russia, but also in Italy and France. For example, a school principal came to us and told us that there is no fire fighting system in the school, and I suggested that the mayor pay for it. This is normal behavior of IKEA and any other company. In the end, the story of children's sports was not corrupt, because I promised to make a donation long before the problems arose.

- Working in Russia, you often met with officials in the unclean hands. You did not think to hand over their police?

- No, never.

- Why?

- You know, it's a good question that I can not give a simple answer.

- One of our readers reports that he was aware of the facts of taking kickbacks to employees of IKEA. He does not name names, unfortunately.

- No company can not guarantee the absence of idiots among their employees. But one thing is for sure: if the IKEA knows about such things, it is very tough. The company not only dismisses thieving employees, but also inform the police.

- Tell us about the first steps of IKEA in Russia.

- At first, I went from office to office and said that I should get the land to build the store and sell furniture. I was looked thoughtfully and said the furniture? We've got actually a big business, and you want to sell chairs. But come August 1998 years, the same people began to call back to me: we can resume the negotiations on the furniture? After 1998 years I have collected the best team with which I have ever work at IKEA or somewhere else. They are only released from the universities want to work, and there was nowhere to go.

- How did you come up with the idea to write a book? Then you have thought to leave the company?

- It was not very easy to work in IKEA in 2000. I'm a Westerner, I'm used to negotiating, let's say, logically. And here everything was not so. One of my advisers told me after the talks: you were too logical. I was given a lot of advice, too much for my poor head. Sometimes at night I would wake up and sit down to write. Just in order to structure what is happening, to understand what is happening. And then my wife said to me: "Lennart, you must write this book for our daughters to explain to them why we lived in this mysterious country." The feeling that I'm writing a book helped me do business. For example, I met with the mayor and he shook hands and said: "Of course, we agreed, everything is according to plan." A week later he called me to talk and explained for a long time why the promises made last week were no longer valid. Before, I would say: "That's all, I'll go somewhere else." And now - as a writer - I was interested in leading these conversations, because I could put them in a book. I became more attentive to people, telling them: "Explain more details ..."

- The company is not very well received book?

- The story is as follows. When the manuscript was ready, I came to [the founder of IKEA Ingvar] Kamprad. On business. Before leaving, I said: "Ingvar, you must read my book." "What book?" He asked. After a while he called my wife and said that he really liked the book. He wanted to translate it into all languages ​​and distribute it to IKEA employees. But I said: "No, this is my book, I will publish it myself." Soon Kamprad rang again. He showed someone a text, and he was told that publishing a book would hurt the company - business in Russia could be closed. I've been thinking about this for a long time - least of all I wanted to hurt IKEA. Eventually I called Kamprad and told him that I had made a decision and published a book in Sweden.

- What did Kamprad after publication?

- The first time he told me that he would like to change something in the book, a few details. For the second time I reported that my book was discussed at the board of IKEA and decided that it is not very good for the company. But then he added that personally, as a private citizen, he would like to buy a lot of copies and distribute them to employees. But the problem is that it is not a private person.

- IKEA sells a franchise?

- Yes, we have a franchise in many countries. For example, in Israel, the Arab countries and Iceland. Independently we are building stores only in the most important regions - North America, Europe, China and Japan. In Russia, IKEA is already there, so there can not be a franchise. But even if we open a franchise, then we control every detail. You can not change the price, product names, store space. You can not change anything - everything has to be exactly as we do.

- Why all IKEA sells itself and does not allow others to do so?

- You know, the mayor of Moscow also asked about it. He knows everything about everything! In particular, he knows better than anyone how to do business IKEA. He told me: "Why do you build shops? Why not take advantage of someone else? So you earn more. " He liked to Metro, and he suggested that we make the store as the Metro. I thanked him for his advice and promised to think about it. But this, of course, never, never happen. IKEA will not sell your different furniture.

- One of our readers complained that Russian meatballs at IKEA stores are not as tasty as in Milan.

- He's right.

- Why?

- In some countries do not import beef, in others - is very difficult. In any case, the import of meat - the whole affair. Usually we make the meatballs in place. That's why they are different.

- What were the main risks in Russia?

- Well, of course, the Russian government may close the IKEA, if they do not like something. But they find it exciting! So I do not see any risks. If you insist on a serious answer, I would say about the courts. Legislation in Russia is not so bad, but the courts ...

- What kind of a country where there is the IKEA, you can compare the level of zabyurokratizovannosti with Russia?

- Of the countries where I have worked, I can distinguish Italy. Not so tough, of course, as in Russia, but close to that.

- Several readers interested: how difficult it is to become the supplier of IKEA?

- Funny question. IKEA desperately looking for suppliers in Russia. When I came here, I had two objectives - to open our shops and find suppliers. Kamprad is the second task is much more important. Today 30% of what we sell in Russia, is here. Made in Russia is sold all over the world. If you want to become a supplier - just come and show what you are doing. If price and quality are right - you will become the supplier.

- How is prestigious to work in Russia, if you are an employee of Western companies?

- The IKEA much more good people willing to work in Russia than empty seats in the Russian office. I do not know whether it is connected with a career. Probably yes.

- it was the most difficult in any Russian region? In short, if you can.

- Samara.

- The most memorable memory from your childhood.

- I was very stubborn. When I could not get what they want - I sat and waited until it received. So parents remember.

- Have you ever thought to open your own business?

- No, I'm too old, lazy and stupid.

- Your home is furnished with IKEA?

- In Sweden, yes. We have old furniture which has passed by inheritance, but 70% - from IKEA.

- Read out the questions entirely. "At IKEA done with great respect for the customer, his needs, with respect to his time, his wallet to his apartment. Mr. Dahlgren, and what can we, as consumers, do to your store? Hope N.»

- Good question, I do not even know what to say. What consumers can do? If you are asked whether they steal customers have to say: according to statistics, in Russia, they steal less than in most other countries of presence. I know where they steal the most, but I will not tell.

- Why are the prices of the Russian IKEA higher than in other countries?

- I do not work at IKEA and I can not comment. But personally, I am very disappointed. And the move can suggest only one reasonable explanation - duty. Most of the assortment is imported to Russia from abroad. The fees are so high that in many IKEA products imported does not earn a penny. But rest assured: those items that are made in Russia, are here less than anywhere else.

- IKEA ever wanted to do low-rise building?

- I've been dreaming about it. I researched the topic, and I thought it would be a demand. We are seriously thinking to build more settlements - with houses, infrastructure, kindergarten. But we have already invested in Russia so much money that we simply had no money.

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