February 18, 2018

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad has died at the age of 91

29 January 2018, 05:50 | Cassandra Thompson

REUTERSIkea founder Ingvar Kamprad has died

Ingvar Kamprad

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, 91, credited for turning a small-scale mail order business into world's leading furniture company, died on Sunday.

Ikea, one of the most ubiquitous acronyms in the business world, stands for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd.

Sweden's royal house, politicians and business leaders are praising the work and entrepreneurial spirit of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, who died at age 91.

Despite his lack of operational role within the company after 1988, IKEA noted, Kamprad served as a senior adviser in the years that followed, offering many contributions to employees during the span of his career.

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

Ikea - famed for its charming naming system, picture-based assembly manuals, and affordable prices - now boasts more than 300 stores in 29 countries worldwide.

Famously frugal - reusing teabags and flying economy class - Mr Kamprad's most robust design is not the Kilppan sofa or the Billy bookshelf, but the Ikea empire itself. He drove an old Volvo, recycled his tea bags, reportedly pilfered the salt and pepper packets at restaurants and visited markets in the late afternoon to find discounted produce.

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Now, I hate to milkshake duck the recently departed, but I'm gonna do it: Kamprad also faced controversy over the past couple of decades for his involvement in fascist movements back in the 1930s and 40s.

Almost two decades later, a book by Swedish journalist Elisabeth Asbrink extended the claims, linking Kamprad to a group that succeeded the country's swastika-flying National Socialist Workers Party.

Kamprad's net worth has come with some debate.

Born on March 30, 1926, Kamprad was a precocious entrepreneur who sold matchboxes to neighbours from his bicycle. "I'm stingy and I'm proud of the reputation", Kamprad had famously said.

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.

Survivors include an adopted daughter from his first marriage, Annika Kihlbom; and three sons from his second marriage, Peter, Jonas and Mathias Kamprad, who hold top positions within the Ikea empire.

After founding the company at 17, Kamprad's own wealth grew to an estimated at 37.3 billion euros (around $46 billion) in 2017, according to the Swiss economic magazine Bilan. IKEA is owned by a foundation Kamprad created, whose statutes require profits to be reinvested in the company or donated to charity. Kamprad's character is crucified on a Maypole, according to the New Yorker, but much like his real-life counterpart he remained unfazed.

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