Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad dies aged 91

Founder of Swedish furniture firm Ikea Ingvar Kamprad dead aged 91 The life and times of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad
Melody Ballard | 29 January, 2018, 05:45

He was the founder of the world's largest furniture retailer, IKEA.

Mr Kamprad is reported to have come up with the idea of flat-pack furniture after watching an employee remove the legs from a table in order to fit it into a customer's auto.

- AFP picSTOCKHOLM, Jan 28 -Billionaire Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who turned a business he launched as a teenager into one of the world's best known furniture brands, has died at the age of 91, the Swedish company said today.

"Ingvar Kamprad was a unique entrepreneur who had a big impact on Swedish business and who made home design a possibility for the many not just the few", national news agency TT quoted Lofven saying.

Kamprad was a great entrepreneur "of the typical southern Swedish kind - hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye", said Torbjorn Loof, CEO and president of Inter Ikea Group said.

The food portion of Ikea's empire, which includes in-store restaurants and grocery stores, generated 1.8 billion euros in sales previous year. Ikea catalogues were photographed using company employees instead of models, and staff were encouraged to write on both sides of a sheet of paper.

Despite his success in building the IKEA business, Kamprad was a controversial figure.

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Almost two decades later, a book by Swedish journalist Elisabeth Asbrink extended the claims, linking Kamprad to a group that succeeded the country's swastika-flying National Socialist Workers Party.

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

Kamprad's net worth has come with some debate.

Backed with modest financial support from his father, Kamprad began selling pens, picture frames, typewriters and other goods, delivering orders on his bicycle. He saved on taxes by moving to Switzerland in 1976, though he returned to Sweden in 2014.

He was proud of the egalitarian spirit that his company promoted, telling Sydsvenskan newspaper in 2008, "I belong to the people on the (shop) floor".

Survivors include an adopted daughter from his first marriage, Annika Kihlbom; and three sons from his second marriage, Peter, Jonas and Mathias Kamprad, who hold top positions within the Ikea empire. IKEA is owned by foundation that Kamprad created, whose statutes require profits to be reinvested in the company or donated to charity. Swedish tax filings from 2013 established his wealth at about $113 million, according to the Associated Press.

But Kamprad lived sparingly, reportedly wore clothes from thrift stores, drove an ageing Volvo, and regularly used his supermarket loyalty card. "He really left an indelible imprint on retail and on consumers' lives".

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