Ingvar Kamprad, who established furnishings giant IKEA, dies at 91

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018|3:04 p.m.

STOCKHOLM– IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, who turned a small-scale mail order service started on his family’s farm into a furnishings empire by letting customers piece together his simple and economical furnishings themselves, has actually died at age 91.

Kamprad passed away on Saturday at his home in Smaland, in southern Sweden, the chain’s Swedish unit, IKEA Sverige, said on Twitter on Sunday. He died peacefully following a brief illness, it stated.

“He will be much missed out on and warmly remembered by his household and IKEA personnel all around the world,” the company said.

The IKEA Group’s president, Jesper Brodin, said Kamprad’s “legacy will be appreciated for many years to come and his vision– to produce a better daily life for many individuals– will continue to guide and inspire us.”

Kamprad’s life story is thoroughly linked to the company he founded at age 17 on the family farm. His work principles, frugality and down-to-earth design remain at the core of its business identity today. However his errors in life, consisting of early flirtations with Nazism, never ever rubbed off on IKEA, one of the world’s most identifiable brand names.

Along the method, Kamprad became extremely abundant, though quotes of his wealth vary extremely, from slightly more than $100 million to nearly $60 billion when he died.

Kamprad formed the company’s name from his own initials and the first letters of the family farm, Elmtaryd, and the parish where it lies, Agunnaryd. The farm is in the heart of Smaland, a forested province whose individuals are known for their thrift and resourcefulness, qualities Kamprad had.

Kamprad, regardless of his wealth, never adopted the aura of a tycoon, though his name frequently appeared on lists of the world’s richest guys. He drove a modest Volvo and dressed unassumingly. In a 1998 book he co-authored about IKEA’s history, he explained his practice of checking out vegetable street markets right prior to they closed for the day, wishing to improve prices.

His track record for living modestly became part of a thoroughly crafted image perpetuated by him and his business, his previous executive assistant Johan Stenebo said.

“He wished to appear a man of the people, among us,” Stenebo wrote in a behind-the-scenes book, “The Fact About Ikea,” launched shortly after he left the business nearly a decade ago.

Kamprad, who was born upon March 30, 1926, was a precocious business owner who offered matchboxes to next-door neighbors from his bicycle. He discovered that he might purchase the matchboxes wholesale really cheaply from Stockholm and offer them at a low rate however still make a good earnings. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decors, seeds and later ballpoint pens and pencils.

He soon moved away from making sales calls and started marketing in local newspapers and running a makeshift mail order brochure. He dispersed his products via the local milk van, which provided them to the close-by train station.

In 1950, Kamprad presented furniture, pieces produced by producers in the forests near to his house, into his catalog. After the positive reaction he received, he decided to stop all other items and focus on low-priced furnishings.

Since then the IKEA concept– keeping rates low by letting clients created the furnishings themselves– uses budget friendly furniture at shops around the world.

The idea of offering unassembled future in flat boxes was innovative at the time, said Neil Saunders, managing director of the research study company GlobalData Retail.

“He thought people must be able to purchase quality furnishings at accessible rates, as long as they wanted to do some assembly themselves,” Saunders stated. “He really left an indelible imprint on retail and on consumers’ lives.”

But IKEA’S often-confounding assembly instructions have flummoxed a lot of people through the years that some could not resist wondering for how long it may require to create Kamprad’s coffin in macabre posts on Twitter.

Before Kamprad’s company ended up being a family word, he formed obligations that came back to haunt him.

In 1994, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that Kamprad had contacts with Swedish fascist leader Per Engdahl in the 1940s and ’50s. In a letter to IKEA workers, Kamprad acknowledged that he once had compassions for the far-right leader and called it “a part of my life which I bitterly are sorry for.”

In the 1998 book, he offered more details about his younger “deceptions,” saying he had actually been affected as a kid by his German grandmother’s strong support for Adolf Hitler.

“Now I have actually told all I can,” he said at a book release event at an IKEA shop in suburban Stockholm. “Can one ever get forgiveness for such stupidity?”

The book likewise included details about his struggles with alcohol and his successes and failures in service.

IKEA celebrates its Swedish heritage: Its shops are painted blue and yellow like the Swedish flag and serve meatballs and other conventional Swedish food. But Kamprad’s relationship with his homeland was sometimes made complex.

He transferred to Switzerland in the late 1970s to prevent paying Swedish taxes, which at the time were the highest in the world. He chose to return home only after his second partner died in 2011.

The estate inventory submitted to Swedish tax authorities in 2013 verified that the couple lived conveniently however barely in luxury. They had 2 vehicles, a 2008 Skoda and a 1993 Volvo 240. Kamprad’s individual wealth was established at 750 million kronor ($113 million), a substantial amount but far from the multibillion-dollar sums attributed to him on world’s-richest lists assembled by Forbes and others.

IKEA authorities have stated such lists, which compared his wealth to that of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, erroneously thought about IKEA’s assets as his own. IKEA is owned by a structure Kamprad created, whose statutes need profits to be reinvested in the business or contributed to charity.

The estate inventory revealed that Kamprad had contributed more than $20 million to philanthropic causes in 2012 alone.

In June 2013, Kamprad announced he would retire from the board that manages the IKEA brand name as part of transfer to hand duties over to one of his sons.

Although he was no longer involved in IKEA’s day-to-day operations, his concepts stayed deeply deep-rooted in the company, which often operated more like a secretive cult than a business, according to Stenebo’s book.

“There was an unwritten law for Ikea’s upper management– commitment to Ingvar until death,” Stenebo composed.

Jari Tanner contributed from Helsinki, Finland. AP Business Writer Michael Liedtke contributed from San Francisco.

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