Ikea’s French headquarters received a series of menacing letters in December and April, addressed to the company’s management in France.
The documents threatened to attack French stores using ‘arson and explosive devices’ if the Swedish giant failed to meet a list of demands.
The company’s German headquarters received similar threats, and copies of the letters were also sent to major French media outlets including TF1 and Canal Plus television, though the contents have not yet been made public.
The letters were signed by the names ‘Robin Wood’ and ‘Franck Steel’, and included a fictional address on ‘Rue de la Charité’ in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, French daily Le Parisien revealed.
The blackmailers reportedly demanded that Ikea pay them a ransom of several million euros, make ‘significant’ donations to charity, and increase the salaries of staff at the Swedish furniture company.
Failure to meet the demands by Tuesday May 28th would, the letters claimed, run the risk of Ikea stores and warehouses in France being targeted by arson or explosive devices.
Directors at Ikea France said they were taking the threats seriously and had filed a police complaint.
Ikea's bosses also told Le Parisien that in 2012 the company had donated €82 million to development projects throughout the world.
Investigators in Versailles, outside Paris, and the eastern city of Strasbourg, are leading the inquiry.
A German environmentalist group called Robin Wood, which has in the past protested Ikea’s use of tropical wood for its furniture, has distanced itself from the threats.
“We have absolutely no connection with these letters,” Ute Bertrand, a spokeswoman for the group, told The Local on Wednesday.
Similarly, a French sister organization called ‘Robin des Bois’ (Robin Hood) also denied being behind the letters. The organization has in the past protested against Ikea's use of "endangered tree species."
“We have no link to these letters. We never send letters with false names or addresses, and we never use violence or the threat of violence,” Jacky Bonnemains, the group’s president, told The Local.
This is not the first time that Ikea has been the target of violence.
In May 2011, booby-trapped alarm clocks exploded in an Ikea store in Lille, in northern France, in what appeared to be part of a coordinated bombing campaign which also hit stores in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
No one was harmed in the attacks, and an investigation led police to arrest two men in Poland, who had been demanding €6 million in extortion payments from Ikea.