Who Is Ingvar Kamprad? Net Worth, Interesting Facts About Ikea Founder

Emilio Banks
January 29, 2018

- 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, "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century", passed away at his home in the southern province of Smalad, said a company statement.

Kamprad had an estimated net worth of $58.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world's eighth-richest person. He eschewed formal business suits, dressed in well-worn clothes and in later years drove an old Volvo.

In an interview in the 1980s, Mr Kamprad said that his vision for Ikea was that it would be a company that would make life easier for its customers.

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. The Ikea flat packs revolutionized the way in which tables, chairs and other items could be stored and shipped, before being assembled by the customer.

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Mr Kamprad had the brainwave when he watched an employee taking the legs off a table to fit it into a customer's vehicle, an idea which the company said made him "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century".

Kamprad got the name IKEA from his own initials, the first letters of his family farm and where the farm was located. "If I want to know something I don't approach a top manager, I talk to 10 sales people", he added.

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

For decades, the company seemed to be thriving under his watch, as it avoided controversy and seemed to instill in its employees a near-fanatical devotion to Kamprad. Kamprad apologized to Ikea employees, saying his membership was the "greatest mistake of his life". Comparing the company's management culture to that of the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, he described a network of informers that kept Kamprad apprised of the latest office gossip and accused Ikea's executives of racism. He continued to wield power as an adviser to the holding company, and he designed an ownership structure to ensure Ikea's future survival and independence. In 2013, he relinquished his role as chairman of Inter Ikea Group.

Although Kamprad had stepped away from Ikea's board in recent years, serving since 1988 as a senior adviser, he was widely regarded as the company's leading architect and a still-powerful force behind the scenes.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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