Publishedduration49 minutes agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightReutersimage captionThe 2021 edition will be the catalogue's final

Furniture giant Ikea has announced it will stop printing its traditional catalogue, one of the world's biggest annual publications, after 70 years.

The company said "fewer people" were reading the printed catalogue as customers moved to digital alternatives to shop and look for inspirations.

The publication reached a peak in 2016 when around 200 million copies were distributed in more than 50 markets.

The last edition to be printed is the 2021 version with 40 million copies.

The catalogue's first edition was put together by Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad himself in 1951. It featured the MK wing chair, had 285,000 copies and was distributed in southern Sweden, where the company was created.

  • Why we have a love-hate relationship with Ikea
  • How Ikea's Billy bookcase took over the world

In a statement, Ikea said the catalogue had become an "iconic and beloved publication" and an "important success factor for Ikea to reach and inspire" customers.

"Turning the page with our beloved catalogue is emotional but rational," said Konrad Gruss, managing director at Inter Ikea Systems, a division of brand owner Inter Ikea Group.

"For both customers and co-workers, the Ikea Catalogue is a publication that brings a lot of emotions, memories and joy. For 70 years it has been one of our most unique and iconic products."

The company has already increased digital investments, Mr Gruss said, as media consumption and customer behaviours change. Ikea said online sales had increased by 45% worldwide last year.

However, the company – which has 445 stores – announced in October it planned to open dozens of new stores, including in the UK.