The global furniture empire IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad has passed away, as announced by the company earlier this morning (Sunday, January 28th, 2018).
IKEA’s Swedish unit said on Twitter that Kamprad died Saturday at his home in Smaland, southern Sweden. Later it said he died peacefully following a short illness.
Kamprad formed the company’s name from his own initials and the first letters of the family farm, Elmtaryd, and the parish of Agunnaryd where it is located. It’s in the heart of Smaland, a forested province whose people are known in Sweden for their thrift and ingenuity. Kamprad possessed both, and while he often appeared on lists of the world’s richest men, he never adopted the aura of an industrial titan.
Born on March 30, 1926, Kamprad was a precocious entrepreneur who sold matchboxes to neighbors from his bicycle. He found that he could buy them in bulk very cheaply from Stockholm, and sell them at a low price but still make a good profit. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds and later ballpoint pens and pencils.
Kamprad soon moved away from making individual sales calls and began advertising in local newspapers and operating a makeshift mail-order catalog. He distributed his products via the local milk van, which delivered them to the nearby train station.
In 1950, Kamprad introduced furniture into his catalog, pieces that were produced by local manufacturers in the forests close to his home. After the positive response he received, he soon decided to discontinue all other products and focus just on low-priced furniture.
Since then the IKEA concept — keeping prices low by letting the customers assemble the furniture themselves — offers affordable home furnishings at stores across the globe.
The estate inventory filed to Swedish tax authorities in 2013 confirmed that the couple lived comfortably but hardly in opulence. They had two cars — a 2008 Skoda and a 1993 Volvo 240. Kamprad’s personal wealth was established at 750 million kronor ($113 million), a considerable amount, but far from the multibillion-dollar sums attributed to him on world’s-richest lists compiled by Forbes and others.
IKEA officials have said such lists, which compared his wealth to that of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, erroneously considered IKEA’s assets as his own. IKEA is owned by a foundation that Kamprad created, whose statutes require profits to be reinvested in the company or donated to charity.
The estate inventory showed that Kamprad had donated more than $20 million to philanthropic causes in 2012 alone.
In June 2013, Kamprad announced that he would retire from the board which controls the IKEA brand as part of moves to hand responsibilities over to his son, Mathias.
Kamprad is survived by a daughter Annica from his first marriage to Kerstin Wadling and three sons — Peter, Jonas, and Mathias — from his marriage to Margaretha Stennert.
Funeral arrangement details are not available at this time.
Source: Washington Post