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Buys 25,000 acres, IKEA invests in Lowndes County forestry

Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

IKEA Group (Ingka Holding B.V. and its controlled entities) announced Thursday, Feb. 1 that the company acquired its first U.S. forest property, covering approximately 25,000 acres in Lowndes County.

According to the company, the investment in forestry is part of a broader strategy to invest in the sustainable production of resources that IKEA Group consumes directly, such as energy, or indirectly through its products (wood raw material, recycled materials, etc.).

The land was purchased from a professional forest investment company (REIT, Real Estate Investment Trust), said Leticia Bradley, public relations manager for IKEA. She said, “As a general policy we do not disclose commercial details around acquisition transactions.”

IKEA Group also owns more than 250,000 acres of forest land in Europe, located in Romania and the Baltic States.

“As a responsible forest owner, we are interested in identifying and applying sustainable management methods that will allow us to preserve and even increase the quality of the forest over time,” says Krister Mattsson, head of Financial Asset Management, IKEA Group.

“Entering the US market is a milestone for our investments in forests, and we believe we will learn a lot here while implementing our long-term approach to forest management and applying for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.”

White the announcement includes no information as to where the property is located in the county and no details about the cost of the purchase were made, Jim Byard Jr., executive director of the Lowndes County Economic Development Commission, said IKEA’s first U.S. property acquirement is “good news for Lowndes County.”

He said it could lead to “possible furniture manufacturing and other relationships for future business and industrial growth.”

Byard said not only was the forest property purchase a milestone for IKEA, but a milestone for Lowndes County, as well.

Byard said, “IKEA is a worldwide known entity. And when a worldwide known entity sends out that they’ve purchased that much acreage in Lowndes County that means that our name is out across the nation and the world and that will allow us to hopefully foster relationships with IKEA and their manufacturers in the those that relations will foster an opportunity to get some of them for manufacturing jobs for the county in the future.”

According to the company, this new acquisition is in addition to several other significant investments IKEA Group has recently made in the U.S., where they currently operate 47 stores and seven distribution centers.

In 2017, the company opened four new stores (Columbus, OH, Fishers, IN, Jacksonville, FL and Grand Prairie, TX) and one new distribution and customer fulfilment center (Baytown, TX). IKEA Group also acquired San-Francisco-based TaskRabbit, an innovative on-demand services platform company, to provide IKEA customers with additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions. Additionally, the company made minority investments in XL Hybrids and AeroFarms, who share the brand’s ongoing commitment to supporting sustainable resources.

Bradley confirmed that IKEA did not purchase the land in Lowndes County for a Lowndes County location.

For its forest management in the U.S., the company reports IKEA Group has partnered with Campbell Global, a leader in sustainable timberland and natural resource investment, to oversee and operate the property.

“We are proud to be working with IKEA to promote our shared values,” said John Gilleland, CEO and Chairman of Campbell Global. “Responsible stewardship is the cornerstone of our culture. We are committed to managing sustainable, working forests to foster optimal forest health and provide direct benefits to local communities.”

Based in Portland, Oregon, the firm was founded in 1981 as The Campbell Group and brings more than three decades of experience and industry knowledge to timberland investment management and value creation. For more information visit www.campbellglobal.com.