Ikea buys gig economy odd-jobs company TaskRabbit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 29 Sept, 2017) London, Uk – –

Ikea has bought the gig economy odd-jobs company TaskRabbit, becoming the latest retailer to move into offering services alongside products.

Jesper Brodin, the president and chief executive of Ikea Group, said the Swedish homeware chain was responding to increasing urbanisation and a shift to digital shopping that challenged traditional retail.

“We need to develop the business faster and in a more flexible way. An acquisition of TaskRabbit would be an exciting leap in this transformation,” he said.

TaskRabbit, based in San Francisco and set up in 2008, operates in 40 cities in the US and the UK, connecting customers through its app with home maintenance tradespeople who can handle furniture assembly, decorating, cleaning and deliveries.

Users flag jobs they want doing, and taskers, as the company refers to them, can select work nearby, apparently choosing the rate at which they will be paid.

TaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group and link up with other retailers. The value of the deal was undisclosed.

Ikea joins the likes of John Lewis and Debenhams in seeing services as a route to growth.

John Lewis launched its Home Solutions service this month after signing up 150 independent tradespeople, all of whom were vetted by the department store. After being tested in Milton Keynes, the service is being extended to Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Taunton.

Brodin said: “We will be able to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise, while also providing Ikea customers additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions.”

The acquisition takes Ikea into the gig economy, with TaskRabbit workers classed as independent contractors who work when they want, where they want and at rates they set, but are not necessarily entitled to a minimum wage or holiday pay.

Other gig economy employers, including Uber and Deliveroo, have faced court action over the treatment of their workers, some of whom say they are not independent contractors and should receive holiday pay.

The buyout comes after Ikea tested recommending TaskRabbit workers to assemble furniture for customers late last year at some of its London stores.

TaskRabbit was founded by the former IBM software engineer Leah Busque. The company has struggled to expand and partnered up to offer its services via Amazon last year.

By Sarah Butler