IKEA founder dies at his home in Sweden

Ingvar Kamprad, who founded Sweden's IKEA furniture brand and transformed it into a worldwide business empire, has died at the age of 91.

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

IKEA now has around 400 stores, visited by almost 1 billion people in 2017.

It added: "Ingvar Kamprad was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind - hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye".

The BBC points out that "Kamprad is reported to have come up with the idea of flat-pack furniture [in 1956] after watching an employee remove the legs from a table in order to fit it into a customer's auto".

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Swedish multinational furniture retailer IKEA, stands outside the company's head office in Almhult, Sweden, on August 6, 2002.

Kamprad announced in 2013 that he would be stepping down from the board of Inter Ikea, owner of the furniture giant's concept and brand, and his youngest son became chairman.

"He believed people should be able to buy quality furniture at accessible prices, as long as they were willing to do some assembly themselves", Saunders said.

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In a 2016 interview with Swedish television channel TV4, Mr Kamprad said that it was "in the nature of Småland to be thrifty".

Kamprad was known to lead a frugal life and drive a simple Volvo auto well into his later years.

Even though he was Swedish, he lived in Switzerland from the year 1976 to 2014.

Kamprad's life was not without controversy, however. "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.

A spokesman for Dutch-based Inter Ikea, one of the company's two divisions, said that the company had been taxed "in accordance with European Union rules".

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.

Sweden was neutral in World War II, and its Nazi party remained active after 1945. Kamprad said he stopped attending its meetings in 1948, later attributing his involvement to the "folly of youth", and calling it "the greatest mistake of my life".

  • Megan Austin