Swedish IKEA founder Kamprad dies at 91

Posted January 29, 2018

Ikea has long held the position of being the largest furniture store in the world, operating 412 stores in 49 countries, with a strong online retail presence which it continues to strengthen.

- 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.

A statement from Ikea said that Kamprad had "peacefully passed away at his home".

"One of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century, Ingvar Kamprad, has peacefully passed away at his home in Smaland, Sweden, on January 27", Ikea said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Ikano Group, a finance and real estate conglomerate that Kamprad founded as part of Ikea, confirmed the death but did not give a cause.

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Kamprad returned to Sweden in 2014 after a reorganization of IKEA's complex ownership slashed his tax bill and left him with little formal influence. At age 5, Kamprad started his business ventures by selling matches to his neighbors. This had to do with a money transfer to a secret foundation that owns Ikea in tax haven Liechtenstein and removed him from direct ownership of Ikea.

The group insists that it complies fully with national and worldwide tax regulations. She wrote that he was an active recruiter for a Swedish Nazi group, and stayed close to sympathisers well after World War Two. The Ikea founder said he stopped attending its meetings in 1948. Mr Kamprad apologised after the revelations went public, describing his membership of the organisation as the "greatest mistake of his life".

The story of Ikea - acronym for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd (the name of his farm and municipality of origin) began in 1943. His early success arose from squeezing his prices to undercut more established competitors.

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 during freight so the package would fit into a auto.

"Now I have told all I can", he said at a book release ceremony at an IKEA store in suburban Stockholm.

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"The greatest intelligence within Ikea is on our floors".

The food portion of Ikea's empire, which includes in-store restaurants and grocery stores, generated 1.8 billion euros in sales a year ago.

But Kamprad lived sparingly, reportedly wore clothes from thrift stores, drove an ageing Volvo, and regularly used his supermarket loyalty card.

"If you look at me now, I don't think I'm wearing anything that wasn't bought at a flea market", he said.

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