Ikea founder dies aged 91

Founder of Swedish furniture firm Ikea Ingvar Kamprad dead aged 91

Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder who turned a small-scale mail order business into a global furniture empire, has died at 91, the company said Sunday.

The company said that Mr Kamprad was "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century".

"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.

Ingvar Kamprad was honored by lowering the Swedish flag outside an IKEA in Stockholm.

"On some Sundays in Britain", the Guardian newspaper reported in 2004, "almost twice as many people visit [Ikea] as attend church; it has been calculated that 10% of Europeans now alive were conceived in one of Ikea's beds".

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.

Entire families descended on the company's stores each week and Ikea's merchandise became ubiquitous.

The flat pack furniture giant confirmed he passed away at home yesterday in Småland.

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).

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Numerous names were devised by Kamprad, whose dyslexia led him to devise a naming system that would employ familiar and easy to identify words, according to the Guardian.

Elmtaryd is the name of Kamprad's family farm in Smaland, a small southern Swedish province known for its thrifty attitude and hard-working people, and Agunnaryd is the town where Kamprad grew up.

"My theory was that good furniture could be priced so that the man with the flat wallet would be attracted to it, would make a place for it in his spending and could afford it", Kamprad told Forbes in a 2000 interview.

Publicly, at least, he made an art of making do, demonstrating a frugality that bordered on asceticism. Ikea catalogues were photographed using company employees instead of models, and staff were encouraged to write on both sides of a sheet of paper.

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.

That appeared to change beginning in 1994, when Sweden's Expressen newspaper uncovered documents that linked the company founder to pro-Nazi groups in the 1940s.

Designed by Gillis Lundgren in 1979, tens of millions of Billy bookcases have been bought - and Ikea still sells one every 10 seconds.

Kamprad's net worth has come with some debate.

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