Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of furniture giant IKEA, has died at the age of 91. Kamprad started selling matches at the age of five, buying them in bulk and selling them individually.
The furniture store on Sunday announced the death of founder Ingvar Kamprad, saying he had passed away at his home in southern Sweden.
“The founder of IKEA and Ikano, and one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century, Ingvar Kamprad, has
peacefully passed away, at his home in Smaland, Sweden, on the 27th of January,” the company said in a press release.
“Ingvar will be very missed and warmly remembered by his family and IKEA colleagues around the world,” the release said.
Kamprad was still a teenager when he founded IKEA in 1943, but it wasn’t until 1956 that he struck proverbial gold when he realized that saving space meant saving money.
His “a-ha” moment came when he saw an employee taking the legs off a table to fit it into a customer’s car. That sparked IKEA’s move towards so-called “flat-pack” furniture. But the task of self-assembly became increasingly dreaded by IKEA’s customers, and the company responded just four months ago by purchasing an assembly start-up known as TaskRabbit.
The retail giant is now approaching $62 billion (50 billion euros) in annual revenues.
Striking out with matches
Kamprad was born March 30, 1926, and began selling matches at the age of five. He quickly discovered that he could buy the matches in bulk, even at retail prices and still turn around and make a profit by them in small quantities in his neighborhood.
He soon branched out and began selling seeds, Christmas tree decorations, pencils and ball-point pens.
The “IKEA” name is an acronym, combining his initials with those of the family farm — Elmtaryd — and the nearby village — Agunnaryd.
“Ingvar Kamprad was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind – hard working and stubborn, with a lot of
warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye,” the company said.
“He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done.”
bik/rc (Reuters, dpa)