HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- Band music and loud cheers greeted hundreds of customers as Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA opened its first store in India on Thursday, five years after it received approval to invest in the country's single-brand retail sector.
The store in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, India's information technology hub, is spread over a sprawling 13 acres (5 hectares).
IKEA Group CEO Jesper Brodin said the company's involvement with India began over three decades ago with the sourcing of products.
"We have a long-term commitment to India, which is an important market for us," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Brodin as saying.
The company's vast array of goods available at one place gives it an advantage in India. The Indian furniture market is mostly unorganized and composed of small and medium-sized businesses.
IKEA plans to open 25 stores in India by 2025. It says it currently employs 950 people and plans to hire another 15,000 as it expands operations.
India's economy is growing by about 7 percent a year. Its retail sector provides the second highest amount of employment after agriculture.
But small traders fear that large retail stores operated by multinational companies will lead to the closure of tens of thousands of mom-and-pop shops across the country.