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30 January 2018, 01:03 | Bernice Figueroa
Flat-pack empire: Five things to know about Ingvar Kamprad and Ikea
STOCKHOLM-IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, who turned a small-scale mail order business started on his family's farm into a furniture empire by letting customers piece together his simple and affordable furniture themselves, has died at age 91.
Kamprad got the name IKEA from his own initials, the first letters of his family farm and where the farm was located.
The business now has around 400 stores, many of them cavernous warehouses in out-of-town malls and roughly 1 billion people visited them a year ago.
Rest in peace, Ingvar Kamprad.
He founded IKEA in 1943, when he was just 17-years-old.
Ikea's value has tripled since 2000 and is now worth US$18.5 billion (RM71.6 billion), according to global brand consultancy Interbrand's 2017 rankings - two spots behind fellow Swedish giant H&M.
Kamprad stepped down from the Ikea board in 2013 at the age of 87, following years of building the iconic brand and being heralded with the invention of the flat pack.
"People have tried to reproduce and copy that, but unsuccessfully", he said.
Despite his wealth, Kamprad prided himself on being frugal, driving an old vehicle and encouraging staff to write on both sides of a sheet of paper to avoid waste.
He returned the area of his youth in 2014, only a year after stepping down as IKEA's chairman.
Kamprad died Saturday of pneumonia in the southern Swedish region of Smaland where he grew up on a farm, and with some modest financial help from his father, starting selling pens, picture frames, typewriters and other goods. "If you look at me now, I don't think I'm wearing anything that wasn't bought at a flea market'".
Although he was no longer involved in IKEA's daily operations, his principles remained deeply ingrained in the company, which sometimes operated more like a secretive cult than a business, according to Stenebo's book.
While Ikea has remained privately-owned under a Dutch trust operated by the Kamprad family, its complex business structure has attracted controversy and the European Commission has launched an investigation into its tax arrangements.
He was forced to apologise for his time as a member of the New Swedish Movement, a nationalist, far-right group that supported fascist parties around Europe, in the 1940s. For his part, Kamprad called his affiliation with fascism the "greatest mistake of his life", and a spokesperson said "there are no Nazi-sympathising thoughts in Ingvar's head whatsoever".
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