Flat-pack empire: 5 things to know about Kamprad and Ikea

by Abel Hampton January 30, 2018, 0:59
Flat-pack empire: 5 things to know about Kamprad and Ikea

Ingvar Kamprad, a dyslexic Swedish farm boy who became one of the world's richest men by founding IKEA when he was 17, building it into a global empire that now has 355 stores in 29 countries, and leaving millions of frustrated consumers bearing a fistful of mismatched screws in his wake, died over the weekend at age 91.

"The founder of IKEA and Ikano, and one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century, Ingvar Kamprad, has peacefully passed away, at his home in Småland, Sweden, on the 27th of January", the statement read.

Feodor Ingvar Kamprad, more commonly called just Ingvar Kamprad, was born on March 30, 1926, in a farming family.

"Ingvar 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", the company said.

Since then the IKEA concept-keeping prices low by letting customers put together the furniture themselves-offers affordable home furnishings at stores across the globe.

However, his business did not hit gold until 1956, when he pioneered flat-pack furniture.

A customer signs a book of condolences at the entrance of an IKEA store in Stockholm.

The Ikea name comes from Kamprad's initials, as well as the first letters of the farm he grew up on, Elmtaryd, and the nearby village Agunnaryd.

The first Ikea catalogue released in 1951.

Kamprad later said that it was "a part of my life which I bitterly regret" but his "Nazi past followed [him] ... to his death", Derek Hawkins reports for the Washington Post, detailing both the charges against him as well as his - and others' - defense of what he claimed was an indiscretion of his youth.

Sweden was neutral in World War II, and its Nazi party remained active after 1945.

Ikea's revolutionary self-assembly model - which would cut transport and storage costs - was conceived in 1956 after an employee suggested table legs be removed so the package would fit into a vehicle.

The business now has around 400 stores, many of them cavernous warehouses in out-of-town malls and roughly 1 billion people visited them previous year.

But Kamprad lived modestly, buying his clothes at thrift shops, driving an ageing Volvo, and bringing a lunch box to work.

"We have Småland in the blood, and we know what a krona is - even though it is not as much as it was when we bought candy and went to elementary school", he said, referring to the Swedish currency.

In 2013, he was forced to hand over billions of dollars to his sons following a bitter family feud over intellectual property income that he kept for himself, according to a book on Ikea.

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