In FY18, Ingka Group total revenue grew by 2.1% and amounted to EUR 37.1 billion. Adjusted for currency impact, retail sales increased by 4.7 percent.
During FY18 we took some significant steps to accelerate our transformation to become more affordable, convenient and sustainable. We increased our investments into new and existing IKEA stores and fulfilment units, and we opened new store formats in city centres to make IKEA even more accessible. To meet the rapid growing demands for online shopping, we continued to develop our ecommerce platform to better meet our customers with faster and better digital shopping experiences.
In FY18 we made some initial structural changes to our operations and over the coming three years we continue to transform our business. The business transformation and the investment related to this will impact our cost structure and bottom-line result. In FY18, gross profit decreased by 1.3% points to 33.3% of total revenue, and operating expenses increased by 1.0% points to 27.3% of total revenue. Operating result was EUR 2.3 billion (EUR 3.0 billion in FY17).
Financial results were also impacted by lower results from Ingka Group’s securities portfolio and the sale of subsidiaries. Corporate taxes incurred in FY18 amounted to EUR 0.6 billion which equals an effective tax rate of 30.0% (24.9% in FY17). Other taxes and duties, such as property taxes and customs duties amounted to EUR 0.5 billion (EUR 0.4 billion in FY17). The net profit for the year FY18 was EUR 1.5 billion (EUR 2.5 billion in FY17).
In FY18 we paid a dividend to our owner Stichting Ingka Foundation of EUR 0.5 billion out of the result from FY17. Total assets amounted to EUR 52.4 billion and we further increased our solvency to EUR 40.8 billion (78%) of equity at year-end.
In total, Ingka Group invested EUR 2.8 billion in stores, distribution and customer fulfilment networks, shopping centres, renewable energy and forestry.
Looking ahead, we continue to take a financially responsible and long-term perspective on our growth and transformation, and our liquidity in excess of EUR 21 billion gives us a solid foundation to invest in our future. We remain confident that we are well positioned to transform our business, adjust to these new market conditions and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented over the next three years.
In a rapidly changing retail landscape, IKEA Retail sales grew by 4.7% adjusted for currency impact (1.9% in Euro), with online sales showing strong growth with an increase of 45%. Sales grew in 29 out of 30 markets, with China remaining one of the fastest growing countries. The five largest markets, based on sales volume, were Germany, USA, France, United Kingdom and China.
In FY18, we opened 12 new stores. Customer visits to our stores increased by 3% to 838 million, and visits to IKEA.com increased by 12% to 2.4 billion. In addition, we opened the first IKEA store in India. We continued to roll out our ecommerce platforms and grew our fulfilment network through 14 new distribution units in order to shorten lead and delivery times to our customers.
In FY18 the rental income from Ingka Centres amounted to EUR 0.9 billion and our centres in China showed the strongest growth, supported by increasing visitation and tenant sales. Ingka Centres welcomed 475 million visits to our shopping centres, an increase of 3%. During the year, we successfully opened new European shop- ping centres in Algarve, Lublin and Zagreb. In Russia we are developing new shopping centres in Novoselie (St. Petersburg area) and Adygea. In China, we have acquired land rights for three new shopping centres in the cities of Changsha, Shanghai and Xian. Furthermore, we are working together with IKEA Retail on a number of projects to increase accessibility of IKEA in city centres.
Ingka Investments invests, develops and manages financial assets to support the growth of our IKEA Retail business and to safeguard the future financial strength of Ingka Group. It consists of five investment portfolios: Renewable Energy, Resource Independence, Venture & Growth Capital, Business Development and Treasury Assets.
Within the Renewable Energy portfolio we own and operate 30 windfarms in 11 countries, and in FY18 new windfarms were acquired in Finland and Portugal. As part of a long-term macro hedging strategy, Ingka Group owns and manages 180.000 hectares of sustainable forest land within the Resource Independence portfolio, and during the year major forest acquisitions were made in Latvia and the USA. As part of the Business Development portfolio, Ingka Group acquired TaskRabbit in order to offer customers flexible and affordable home services such as furniture assembly.
The ultimate parent company of Ingka Group is based in the Netherlands and therefore reports its financial results in Euro (€). This means that all figures in local currencies from the countries in which we operate are translated into Euro and then accumulated. Since currencies fluctuate, companies will always face currency effects when doing these translations. In order to show the underlying trend when adjusting for this effect, Ingka Group also communicates the currency-adjusted development. For FY18, the currency-adjusted sales growth for retail was 4.7%, while the straight conversion into Euros shows a sales increase of 1.9%.