IKEA Furniture Magnate Ingvar Kamprad Dies at 91

Ingvar Kamprad

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 low-priced furniture themselves, has died at age 91.

"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 Småland, Sweden, on the 27th of January", the statement read.

Born in 1926 to a farming family in Smaland, Kamprad, whose fortune in 2017 was estimated at 37.3 billion euros ($46 billion) according to the Swiss economic magazine Bilan, founded the company at the age of 17.

Regularly cited as one of the richest people in the world, Kamprad had been working as an advisor at IKEA since 1988, when he stepped down from a managerial role in the company.

He leaves behind a legacy of affordable interior design for households around the world, through Ikea's flat-pack furniture which customers can assemble themselves.

"Now I have told all I can", he said at a book release ceremony at an IKEA store in suburban Stockholm.

He soon moved away from making sales calls and began advertising in local newspapers and operating a makeshift mail order catalogue.

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Kamprad formed the company's name from his own initials and the first letters of the family farm, Elmtaryd, and the parish of Agunnaryd where it is located.

Flags are flying at half mast at IKEA in Sweden, following the death of the founder of the retail giant.

Employees prepare pictures for a display featuring Ingvar Kamprad at the IKEA museum, in Almhult, Sweden.

The business now has around 400 stores, many of them cavernous warehouses in out-of-town malls and roughly 1 billion people visited them past year.

Kamprad was known for his frugality, buying his clothes at thrift shops, driving an aging Volvo and bringing his lunch to work. "It's in the nature of Småland to be thrifty", he had said in a 2016 documentary. But Kamprad said he stopped attending its meetings in 1948, later attributing the period to the "folly of youth", calling it "the greatest mistake of my life". She wrote that he was an active recruiter for a Swedish Nazi group, and stayed close to sympathisers well after World War Two.

"If you look at me now, I don't think I'm wearing anything that wasn't bought at a flea market", he said.

His decision to live overseas, mainly in Switzerland, to avoid Sweden's high income taxes was also widely criticised.

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