Tired of having to build your Ikea Billy bookshelves yourself?The Swedish furniture giant’s latest purchase means it will be easier to get someone else to do it for you, as long as you are willing to pay.The firm is buying US start-up firm TaskRabbit, which allows users to hire people to help them assemble furniture as well as a host of other chores like house cleaning or lawn mowing.The deal follows a trial of TaskRabbit in London’s Ikea stores last November.Ikea president and chief executive Jesper Brodin said the aim of the deal was to “make our customers’ lives a little bit easier”.”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.Would you pay a stranger to dump your partner for you?John Lewis to sell plumbers and buildersTaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group.The online firm was founded in the US in 2008. Founder Leah Busque came up with the idea after running out of dog food one evening after the shops were closed. She thought if there had been a way to help her connect with local people she would have been able to find someone to help.The firm now operates in 40 US cities and in London in the UK.
Users of the service describe the job they want and are able to select from a list of so-called “taskers” to do the job.Retailer John Lewis recently announced a similar service. Its Home Solutions service allows customers in Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Taunton to hire plumbers, electricians, decorators and other types of tradespeople through an app, website and call centre-based service.The TaskRabbit acquisition takes Ikea into the world of the “gig economy”, with workers for the service all independent contractors rather than employees.Other such firms including taxi hailing app Uber, food delivery service Deliveroo and delivery firm Hermes have faced controversy in the UK over their employment terms. Many workers have complained about job security and the absence of sickness and holiday pay.