Ikea: home-furnishing giant

STARK differences in the euro and sterling prices of products at Ikea – the home-furnishing supplier – are being highlighted on a campaigning website.

Price differences of up to 20% between the same products in stores in the North and in the Republic are being reported.

The "catalogue compare" website has automatically picked out the top five examples, where there is the largest difference in prices.

A mini-kitchen, for instance, available in the UK for €673 is on sale in the Irish catalogue at €799, a difference of 18.6%.

Similarly, a two-drawer fridge, which is on sale for just €729 in the British catalogues, would cost €849 at the store in Ballymun in Dublin.

The difference in price is more than 16% and even if differing VAT rates are taken into account, the gulf in price is still 10.1%.

A cooker with a gas hob would cost €779 to buy in the Republic, but was available for €673 in the United Kingdom, a difference of more than €100.

A foam mattress that would cost only €448 in a store in London or Belfast would cost €539 in Ireland.

Ikea has insisted that products in the Republic are not routinely priced higher in Dublin compared to their equivalents in Belfast.

It said that in some cases products were cheaper in the store in Dublin than they were in outlets in the North or in Britain.

"It is not representative to take a sample of 10 to 15 products out of over 9,500.

"Equally you could pick 10 to 15 products, and many more, which are a lot cheaper in Dublin than in the UK counterparts," a spokesman said.

A random sampling of 10 products, prominently featured on the Ikea Ireland website, by the Sunday Tribune revealed significant differences in pricing.

Of the 10 products picked at random – which included swivel armchairs, throws, pillows and children's toys – nine of them were more expensive in the Irish catalogue.

Another one of the products would have worked out more cheaply in Dublin if it were not for differences in VAT on both sides of the border.

Ikea said that a major independent survey of 1,093 products had concluded that Dublin prices were coming in at just over 8% more expensive than in the UK on average.

Most of that difference could be explained away by the difference in VAT rates both north and south of the border, a spokesman said.

A statement said: "Ikea Dublin trades in euro so does not price against sterling.

"Pricing is subject to a number of external factors in each market, such as VAT (which is 5% higher in Ireland), wage costs, energy, transport, etc.

"[All of these] impact on the actual cost of delivering that product in the local market. Ikea prices are set once a year and are guaranteed to be the lowest in each in­dividual market."