Ingvar Kamprad created a flat-pack empire and made furniture available to everyone not just the rich.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on January 29, 2018

Swedish billionaire founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, has died peacefully surrounded by family aged 91, the firm reported on Sunday.

The tributes have come in thick and fast, with Kamprad being credited with making furniture affordable for the masses.

He passed away where it all began in 1926, in the southern Swedish province of Smaland.

Despite being born into a farming family, his entrepreneurial spirit took hold in his early teens. By 17, he was selling whatever he could get his hands on, typewriters, pens, picture frames, and he would make home deliveries on his bicycle.

The development of IKEA, which stands for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd (after his farm and town), was fast-paced from there.

He went from selling office works to locally handcrafted furniture, and by 25 he had already put out the first of his mail order catalogues.

Then the self-assembly flat-pack business model the IKEA empire was grounded on was devised in 1956.

It goes that an employee suggested taking off a table’s legs so it could fit into a vehicle, and the concept naturally evolved from there.

The IKEA group now has 403 stores across every continent, employs 190,000 people worldwide and generates annual sales of €38 billion.

Kamprad’s personal fortune was estimated to be €37.3 billion in 2017, according to the Swiss economic magazine Bilan. He has not held an operational role with IKEA since 1988 and stepped down from the board in 2013.

“Ingvar Kamprad was a unique entrepeneur who has meant a lot for Swedish business and who has made home furnishing available for many people, not just the few,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told TT news agency.

King Carl XVI Gustaf added he was a “true entrepeneur” who “brought Sweden out to the world”.

“We are mourning the loss of our founder and dear friend Ingvar. His legacy will be admired for many years to come and his vision – to create a better everyday life for the many people – will continue to guide and inspire us,” said Jesper Brodin, CEO and President of the IKEA Group.