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Home furnishings giant enters 'gig economy' with acquisition

Home furnishings giant enters 'gig economy' with acquisition

On September 28, the Swedish home goods giant IKEA announced an agreement to acquire TaskRabbit, a U.S. start-up aimed at connecting people with freelancers willing to run errands and do housework.

IKEA's acquisition of TaskRabbit is a significant move for the world's largest furniture retailer, which now operates and owns over 300 stores in 29 different countries, not to mention, two billion visits to IKEA.com per year.

Started in 2008 and based in San Francisco, TaskRabbit operates in 40 cities in the USA and in London. TaskRabbit has made a name for itself as the go-to service for random tasks - and that often involves moving and building furniture.

TaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group even after the acquisition. After the acquisition, TaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent company.

TaskRabbit and Ikea do have a natural synergy; the companies partnered up a year ago to offer TaskRabbit's furniture assembly service to Ikea customers in the United Kingdom.




Ikea president and chief executive Jesper Brodin said the aim of the deal was to "make our customers' lives a little bit easier". TaskRabbit is a mobile market that allows consumers to purchase local services that will hire "Taskers" to help them move, clean the house, deliver products, and even set up furniture.

The purchase of TaskRabbit was fuelled by Ikea's need to bolster its digital customer service capabilities to better compete with rivals likes Amazon, which has stepped up its home goods and installation services.

"The way you put [Ikea] furniture together - it's nearly impenetrable, while [online furniture retailer] Wayfair is very focused on making sure that its instructions are very simple when it comes to what goes where", branding expert Philip Ryan told Retail Dive previous year. The company recently expanded its presence to 40 cities in the US and London. TaskRabbit will remain headquartered in San Francisco (US).

The deal came to fruition six months after TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot told Recode that the company had been responding to sales interest from strategic buyers.

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