Ingvar Kamprad passed away Sunday 28 January

Ingvar Kamprad Photo: Ikea
By Reidar Molthe

30 January 2018 08:49

Ingvar Kamprad passed away Sunday 28 January

Ingvard Kamprad, founder of IKEA and Sweden's most famous entrepreneur died Sunday 91 years old. "I started making furniture because I was too lazy to become a farmer," he said to this writer some years ago, and he meant it.

“In my youth farming was hard work, very dull and badly paid. I wanted to do something else.”

Ingvard Kamprad started his business with two empty hands at his parents’ small farm in Småland. The first he produced was a practical and simple milking-chair for the farmhands in Småland. That was the modest start of what in a few years became a commercial and industrial adventure of global dimensions.

Kamprad had an estimated net worth of $58.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world’s eighth-richest person. The wealth was accumulated by producing furniture for the masses that was affordable and easy to transport. 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.

“We are mourning the loss of our founder and dear friend Ingvar,” Jesper Brodin, chief executive officer of the Ikea Group, the largest retailer in the Ikea franchise system, said in a statement.

“His legacy will be admired for many years to come and his vision – to create a better everyday life for the many people – will continue to guide and inspire us.”

Careful Billionaire

Kamprad was known for driving an old Volvo, recycling tea bags and taking home little packets of salt and pepper from restaurant visits. He also avoided wearing suits and ties and travelled economy class when flying. Executives of the company travel on low-cost airlines and lodge in budget hotels.

Its employees follow a basic pamphlet written by Kamprad in 1976, “The Testament of a Furniture Dealer,” which states that “wasting resources is a mortal sin,” and stipulates Ikea’s “duty to expand”, writes www.bloomberg.com.

Condolences has poured in from politicians, business leaders and royalty. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said his country had lost a “unique entrepreneur who meant a lot to Sweden’s business community.”

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said Kamprad “pre-eminently put Sweden on the world map. A fantastic entrepreneur who contributed to bringing Sweden out into the world. My thoughts are with his family and relatives.”

The Ikea Experience

Shoppers drop off their children at Ikea day-care centers, dine at Ikea restaurants and select from among thousands of products ranging from leather sofas to soup. In 2017, 403 Ikea stores in 49 countries received 936 million visitors, and the chain generated sales of 38.3 billion euros ($47.6 billion), according to Bloomberg.

U.K. style magazine Icon in 2005 named Kamprad the most influential taste-maker in the world, and wrote “(...) if it wasn’t for Ikea, most people would have no access to affordable contemporary design. The company has done more to bring about an acceptance of domestic modernity than the rest of the design world combined.”

“Since 1988 Ingvar Kamprad did not have an operational role within Ikea but he continued to contribute to the business in the role of senior advisor, sharing his knowledge and energy with the Ikea co-workers,” the company said on Sunday.

"Ingvar Kamprad has for decades changed trade in both Sweden and the world. The trade has lost a pioneer and entrepreneur," writes Svensk Handel in a press release.

As late as May, Ingvar Kamprad was awarded the Swedish Trade Award for his outstanding work for Swedish trade.

"Ingvar Kamprad is one of today's absolute largest entrepreneurs. He started as a 17-year-old a company that put Sweden on the map around the world. IKEA has not only changed millions of homes worldwide; the company has also revolutionized the trade. Ingvar Kamprad's deed will continue to live for a long time to come," says Karin Johansson, CEO of Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel).

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