IKEA, the world's largest furniture retailer and a major global manufacturer of wood furniture, reported that its worldwide sales increased by 9.5% and that its net profit rose 8.0% to $4.2 billion for its fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012.

But improved revenues hardly begin to tell IKEA's story - or better yet - saga of 2012. The international retailing giant faced public scandal over its admission that it purchased furniture parts 25 years or more ago made by prisoner laborers, added solar farms to more of its retail outlets and of course continued to expand its global retail footprint all amid an announcement that its CEO plans to step down this year.

Being one of the largest retailers in the world gives cause for the company pump its chest via press releases about its achievements, while leaving it vulnerable to intense public scrutiny.

Without furhter adieu, here are some of the highlights - and low-lights - for IKEA in 2012.

IKEA Cardboard Pallets JAN - IKEA begins phasing out the 10 million wood pallets it annually uses in favor of cardboard pallets to transport its products. IKEA says its special 2-inch high corrugated cardboard pallets are lighter, thinner and cheaper to use than traditional wooden pallets.
IKEA JAN - Privately held IKEA Group releases its first-ever annual sales report noting that its global sales grew 6.9% to €24.7 billion ($31.9 billion) in the fiscal year ended August 31, 2011.
MAR - Reports that an IKEA store in Portland, OR, supplied storage products for a manufacturered home displayed at a local home and garden show led IKEA to issue a press release that it "has not launched and is not selling prefabricated homes in the United States.
 MAR - IKEA's franchise unit Inter IKEA Systems B.V. signed a seven-year franchise deal with retailer PT Hero Supermarket to operate IKEA stores in Indonesia.
  MAR - Through the IKEA Plant A Tree program, in partnership with American Forests, IKEA says announced it had planted 2 million trees throughout the U.S.

APR - IKEA says it is replacing Asian suppliers with Italian manufacturers for its Italy stores, reportedly because they can produce better quality goods less expensively.

APR - IKEA unveils its new Smart TV, UPPLEVA, which contains a LED HD TV, Blu-ray, DVD, CD combo player and 2.1 wireless sound system all in one cabinet.
 Conan O'Brien IKEA Uppleva spoof APR - "New IKEA Uppleva Is A SNAP To Assemble!" is the title of this spoof video which aired on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
IKEA Foundation Fights Child Labor in India

MAY - IKEA Foundation and Save the Children announce they will expand their efforts to fight child labor in the cotton industry, with new programs in the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajastan.

IKEA Logging in Karellan Russia

JUN - The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) alleges that IKEA for participated in the logging of pine trees 200 to 600 years old in Karella located on Russia's western border.

JUN - IKEA continues its plans for world expansion, including announcing that it would construct 25 stores in India.
JUN - A Canadian court rules that the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) would receive more than $530,000, the final proceeds that bankrupt Scanwood received from IKEA for its final batch of wood dressers. Scanwood, based in Dartmouth, NS, started as a Swedwood plant and was later bought out by company executives.
IKEA JUL - IKEA continues to add solar energy panels at its retail stores, including adding a 148,700-square-foot PV array consisting of a 1,189-kW system, built with 4,956 panels at its store in Tampa, FL. IKEA claims it produces renewable energy equivalent to a third of its total energy consumption. Photovoltaic systems will eventually cover 39 of 44 IKEA store and non-store locations in the U.S.
AUG -  IKEA CEO Mikael Ohlsson announces plans to step down this year and will be succeeded by Peter Angfjall who is currently serving as country manager of IKEA Sweden. In addition, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad plans to increase the profile of his three sons, Jonas Kamprad, Peter Kamprad and hias Kamprad, in the company by giving them “more active ownership roles."
IKEA Foundation Fights Child Labor in India SEP -  IKEA announces that it will expand the IKEA Foundation to include more than $20 million in funding for USA and UK based nonprofits helping children in developing countries.
OCT - IKEA announces that its lighting business will go all-LED by 2016. The company says its move to all LED lighting by IKEA's global lighting business reflects its commitment to sustainability as well as technology advances.
Nova LifeStyle OCT -  Nova LifeStyle of Commerce, CA, announced that it had completed construction of a "state of the art" manufacturing facility in China to produce lacquer-finished wood furniture to be sold at IKEA stores throughout Asia.
IKEA store prison labor NOV - IKEA's admits to embarrassing allegations that some of its furniture components had been made by forced prison labor in the former East Germany and Cuba more than 25 years ago. In November, IKEA releases an independent report by Ernst & Young that substantiates some of the claims.


For the record, IKEA added 11 new stores and 8,000 workers in FY12. The IKEA Group has 139,000 employees and takes pride that 47% of all managers are women.

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