Ikea France accused of "surveillance"


Ikea storeValentina Petrova/AP/Press Association Images

The friendly face of flatpack furniture has run into controversy in France. Ikea says police searched its French headquarters and the home of one staff member last Friday, examining computers and documents as part of an inquiry.

So what is it being investigated for?

The nature of the police investigation is not public. However, it comes hot on the heels of very public allegations that some employees and unhappy customers were being spied on.

The reports

The Guardian reported that so far, two French trade unions have filed complaints over allegations that Ikea France had been spying on employees. French newspaper Le Canard Enchainé had published emails, which is claims were sent between Ikea's French management and a private security company which it says was taxed with looking into employees and shoppers who were taking legal action against the firm.

Reports and allegations began circulating last month, at which point Ikea France launched an internal investigation - headed by an independent law firm. It made it clear that this investigation was not an admission that anything untoward had taken place, but an effort to understand what - if anything - had happened.

It issued a statement saying: "There have been a number of articles about IKEA France with accusations of illegitimate monitoring practices. All accusations and related details are considered and taken very serious by IKEA. We have initiated an investigation, executed by ourselves and our independent investigators, Skadden, an international law firm, to give us a complete picture of what has happened.

Additionally, a police investigation of this matter is ongoing. Due to the ongoing investigations, we are unable to further comment on this case.

"We fully support any regulatory investigation in this matter and co-operate with the authorities. Therefore, IKEA has agreed with the IKEA France Risk Manager as well as the former IKEA France Country Manager and the former IKEA France HR Manager to relieve them of their current duties during the investigations."

"IKEA totally dissociates itself from unethical business behaviour and illegitimate monitoring practices. The IKEA ethical business standards are crystal clear. We do business in an honest and straightforward way - no matter where we operate. The right to privacy is of highest importance for the IKEA Group and we strongly disapprove any practices which would infringe this value."