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Nitori, IKEA battle over Asia's growing furniture market

Big-name chains gain foothold in China, Southeast Asia as incomes rise

This IKEA store near Manila is the company's largest worldwide in terms of floor space. (Photo by Yuichi Shiga)

TOKYO/SHANGHAI/BANGKOK -- Japanese furniture retailer Nitori Holdings and European rival IKEA are racing to expand their presence in China and Southeast Asia, where a growing middle class is creating a boom in home decor.

"Products here are priced well for their quality," a shopper at a Nitori store in Shanghai said in early December. "I live close by, so I come here every time the seasons change."

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