IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad dies after brief illness

29 January, 2018, 05:50 | Author: Miranda Cannon
  • Founder of Swedish furniture firm Ikea Ingvar Kamprad dead aged 91

Kamprad founded IKEA on the family farm in 1943 when he was 17 years old, but only started going big in 1956 when the company pioneered flat-packed furniture.

It was not the first time unbuilt goods had been sold to consumers, but the idea - "flat-pack" furniture for flat-wallet families - had never been tried on such a large scale.

IKEA says Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder who turned a small-scale mail order business into a global furniture empire, has died at 91.

Entire families descended on the company's stores each week and Ikea's merchandise became ubiquitous.

Famously frugal - reusing teabags and flying economy class - Mr Kamprad's most robust design is not the Kilppan sofa or the Billy bookshelf, but the Ikea empire itself.

The food portion of Ikea's empire, which includes in-store restaurants and grocery stores, generated 1.8 billion euros in sales previous year.

Despite his wealth, Kamprad prided himself on being frugal, driving an old vehicle and encouraging staff to write on both sides of a sheet of paper to avoid waste.

His image was tainted in later life by revelations that, during the second World War, he had joined the successor organisation to the Swedish National Socialist Workers' Party in occupied Sweden.

Always looking to cut costs, Kamprad bought much of IKEA's furniture from then communist Poland in the 1960s.

Around that time, Kamprad's management style also came under criticism.


Kamprad was born on March 30, 1926, in Pjatteryd, Sweden.

Kamprad stepped down as CEO in the late 1980s.

Kamprad was renowned for starting his retail beginnings at a particularly young age.

Despite his enormous success, Kamprad's modest spending habits bordered on the obsessive and in 1973 he fled Sweden's higher tax structure for Denmark, before seeking even lower taxes in Switzerland.

Outlining the IKEA philosophy in his "Testament of a furniture salesman" in 1976, Kamprad said wasting resources was "a mortal sin".

Kamprad is survived by a daughter Annica from his first marriage to Kerstin Wadling and three sons - Peter, Jonas and Mathias - from his marriage to Margaretha Stennert.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Kamprad's net worth was $58.7 billion. But the heady valuations assumed his assets were Ikea's, and in the last several decades the company has restructured so that its assets are owned by a foundation created by Kamprad.

But Kamprad lived sparingly, reportedly wore clothes from thrift stores, drove an ageing Volvo, and regularly used his supermarket loyalty card.

In this case, he burst into song: "Do you think this can stop Ingvar?"

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