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Ikea’s blue-and-yellow stores are instantly recognizable: iconic, monolithic and now, as India’s first store throws open its doors to the masses, operating in more than 400 stores in some 50 countries.

But while every branch of the world’s largest furniture retailer has that most unmistakable whiff of flat-pack conformity, regional differences do exist — not least where their famed Swedish meatballs are concerned. In many countries, including Japan, the Ikea business model has been subtly tweaked to fit local preferences and customs. Opening hours are altered, menu options are adjusted and very occasionally, women are airbrushed out of catalogs.

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