The founder of Ikea, posing here August 6, 2002 in front of the headquarters of Ikea in Almhult in Sweden, died January 27, 2018 from pneumonia.
The kit furniture trend and cheap, it is him: son of peasants become multimillionaire Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, died at 91, leaving his heirs an empire with a structure much more complex than Billy shelf.
„Unique entrepreneur“, according to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who „participated in exporting Sweden to the world“, according to King Carl XVI Gustaf, Kamprad, from Småland, a poor and pious province of the south of Sweden, died Saturday „after a short illness,“ Ikea announced Sunday in a statement.
„He had pneumonia after a plane ride,“ one of his close associates, Bertil Torekul, told Aftonbladet daily. „He died as a result of this pneumonia associated with age-related fragility“.
Kamprad „started from scratch but with his inner strength, his abilities and his will, he created something that I think everyone is proud of when Ikea is seen in the world,“ said industry captain Jacob Wallenberg to the business paper Dagens Industri.
Kamprad had become one of the richest men in the world by offering original furniture ready to mount and cheap that revolutionized the layout of homes.
A legacy that Johan, a 25-year-old Swede, has come to visit in the Ikea shop in downtown Stockholm.
„It was very important for Sweden: it placed Sweden on the world map, allowed the middle classes to have spacious kitchens and nice furniture in their homes,“ he told AFP.
An Ikea store in Stockholm on January 28, 2018. The founder of the group died the day before from pneumonia at 91 years old.
„He has made quality design available to all,“ says Steven Coetzee, a South African tourist who also comes across the shop. With Kamprad, „quality design has become democratic,“ he says.
In 2017, the fortune of the Swedish entrepreneur was estimated at 43.3 billion CHF (37.3 billion euros), placing him third among European billionaires, according to the Swiss economic magazine Bilan.
– Tax optimization –
Innovative, Ingvar Kamprad is also a pioneer in tax optimization. In 1973, he left Sweden for Denmark, then moved to Switzerland in 1977 where he lived until 2014 before coming to finish his days in his native region.
A customer signs the book of condolences deposited at the entrance of an Ikea store in Stockholm on January 28, 2018 after the announcement of the death of the founder of the sign Ingvar Kamprad
The nebulous organization of his company challenges. The executive functions, strategy, product design are in Sweden, but legally and accounting, Ikea is divided between foundations and companies in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The European Commission opened an investigation against Ikea in December 2017. Brussels intends to carry out a careful examination of the tax treatment that the Netherlands applies to the group, which claims to comply with European rules.
It was not his first scandal.
In 1994, a newspaper reveals the links of the young Kamprad with a Swedish Nazi group during and after the Second World War. He admits in a letter to his collaborators „the biggest mistake of his life“, which he puts on the back of the national-socialist acquaintances of his paternal family, of German origin.
– Cheaper than the competition –
The story of Ikea – the acronym for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, his home address – began in 1943. He was not interested in studying, but preferred to start trading at 17.
In an area where a penny is a penny, he struggles to sell cheaper than the competition. In particular matches, which he delivers by bicycle, then pens, frames, decorative items, typewriters …
A visitor takes a picture of the portrait of Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea, on 28 January 2018 at the Ikea Museum in Almhult, Sweden.
In 1947, he sold his first furniture, four years later, distributes its first catalog, now printed 200 million copies.
In 1956, an employee had the idea to disassemble the feet of a table to enter a trunk car. The concept of furniture kit, easier and cheaper to store and transport, will work to become an art.
In the 1960s, he launched an unbridled international expansion. Ten years later, he conquers Switzerland, Australia, Canada, France, the United States, Russia after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Asia, the Middle East.
– Battle of inheritance –
The Ikea group now has 403 stores on every continent, employs 190,000 people and generates annual sales of 38 billion euros.
But the man lived sparingly, dressed in thrift stores and fled the media who mocked his age-old Volvo and points on his supermarket loyalty card.
„It is in the nature of Småland, I believe, to be thrifty,“ he justified in a rare interview in 2016 to the Swedish channel TV4. „If you look at me, I think I do not wear anything that was not bought at a flea market, I want to show a good example.“
In the 2010s, he had gradually retired, to give way to his three sons.
The legacy of the Ikea empire was the subject of a bitter battle between its founder and his children.