Culture&Arts

Founder of Ikea furniture chain dead at 91

Founder of Ikea furniture chain dead at 91

Billionaire IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad has died aged 91, the Swedish company said on Sunday, with the furniture empire he launched more than half a century ago familiar around the globe.

Milking salves went by the wayside as Kamprad built Ikea into the world's largest furniture retailer, making a fortune with products whose bright colors and minimalist designs have become a ubiquitous part of middle-class bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, dens and children's play areas.

Under Kamprad, Ikea grew into an global furniture-chain giant, with more than 400 stores worldwide in almost 50 countries and almost $48 billion in revenue. The statement said Kamprad was "surrounded by his loved ones" and died "following a short illness".

Jesper Brodin, chief executive of the Ikea Group, said Mr Kamprad's legacy, "to create a better everyday life for the many people, will continue to guide and inspire us".

Ikea - famed for its charming naming system, picture-based assembly manuals, and affordable prices - now boasts more than 300 stores in 29 countries worldwide.

"My theory was that good furniture could be priced so that the man with the flat wallet would be attracted to it, would make a place for it in his spending and could afford it", Kamprad told Forbes in a 2000 interview.

In 1994, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that Kamprad had contacts with Swedish fascist leader Per Engdahl in the 1940s and '50s.




In 1947, the young Kamprad started selling furniture made by local artisans, and four years later began publishing the first of his mail order catalogues - now printed in 200 million copies and 33 languages annually. "There was an unwritten law for Ikea upper management: loyalty to Ingvar unto death", Johan Stenebo, a former senior manager at the company, wrote in "The Truth About Ikea" (2009).

Kamprad's net worth has come with some debate.

Ingvar Kamprad was born in 1926 in Småland in southern Sweden. Instead, he said, Kamprad drove a Porsche. He left Sweden to escape the country's high taxes.

Kamprad got the name IKEA from his own initials, the first letters of his family farm and where the farm was located.

His sons - Peter, Jonas and Mathias - still sit on the boards of various Ikea entities, but the family is no longer at the helm.

After founding the company at 17, Kamprad's own wealth grew to an estimated at 37.3 billion euros (around $46 billion) in 2017, according to the Swiss economic magazine Bilan. Kamprad's character is crucified on a Maypole, according to the New Yorker, but much like his real-life counterpart he remained unfazed.


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