IKEA bonus is all of 1 day's sales

Bonanza: Employees of Ikea are to receive equal portions of the chain's worldwide sales Oct. 9.

September 24, 1999|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Brian Schwarzkopf is expecting a big bonus next month, and he's talking about it.

He said his friends are jealous but they're listening to his exhortation:

Wait until Oct. 9 to do your shopping at Ikea.

On Oct. 9, all gross sales at the Swedish home furnishings chain's 152 stores worldwide will be divided among the more than 40,000 employees.

Schwarzkopf, 36, a marketplace decorator, is one of 303 IKEA employees at White Marsh.

"Everyone who is full-time gets an equal amount of the sales, whether they are CEO or work in the warehouse," Joakim Gip, external marketing manager for IKEA, said yesterday.

All 30,000 full-time employees worldwide, 4,100 of them in North America, will receive an equal slice of gross sales -- not profit -- that Gip said are likely to reach $65 million. That would give Schwarzkopf a bonus approaching $1,500.

"Personally, I feel it's a company that cares about their employees," said Schwarzkopf, who has worked at Ikea for 3 1/2 years.

Gip said part-time employees and those employed fewer than 90 days will receive partial bonuses.

The bonuses, the brainchild of founder and Chairman Ingvar Kamprad, are meant as a thank you to employees, Gip said.

"He wanted to reward or give back to all the co-workers who have helped him build the company over the last 54 years."

James Singer, principal with global management consulting firm A. T. Kearney Inc., said that, while what privately held IKEA is doing is "extremely unique," it makes sense in today's market.

"IKEA is facing the same issue all retailers are facing: a chronic shortage of labor," Singer said. "This is clearly a move to show its employees that it is serious about keeping them and sharing the prosperity."

In order to boost sales for their day of profit, employees were challenged to develop a plan to bring in more customers. At the 13 stores in the United States, they already had one selling point that Gip said company heads in Europe had not realized: Oct. 9 falls over the Columbus Day weekend, traditionally a busy time for U.S. retailers.

On that day, Gip said, customers can expect the royal treatment: free shoulder and foot massages, chocolate and coffee, discounts and even free furniture. Every hour during the store's extended day, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., two customers' names will be drawn at each location and those shoppers will receive their purchases for free.

While customers seem impressed with the company's generosity to its employees, most like Sally Graef, 64, of Federal Hill said they're not sure they will make a special trip to the store Oct. 9.

"If we knew we needed something, we might wait until Oct. 9," she said. "But we wouldn't come just because the workers are getting the profit."

Still, Schwarzkopf said, IKEA may be getting what it is paying for.

"I've been telling my friends, and they say `I want a job at IKEA,' " he said.

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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