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IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad dies aged 91

By Nicholas Moody

The famously frugal founder of one of the world's most iconic retail chains has died in his native Sweden, aged 91.

Known for driving a 1993 Volvo car, trawling flea markets for clothes, and flying economy class only, the IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad peacefully passed away from a short illness at his home in Småland, Sweden on 27 January.

The 17-year-old Kamprad founded a mail-order business in 1943 immediately after leaving high school using funds his father gave him as a graduation reward to establish the business. It would eventually grow to 412 IKEA stores in 49 markets.

The name IKEA is formed from his initials and the first letters of Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd – the farm and the parish where Ingvar grew up and home for the business for the first 10 years.

Ikea has remained privately-owned under a complex structure owned by several foundations, Interogo and Stichting Ingka, and controlled by the Kamprad family.

The family controls the retailer via three groups of companies—INGKA, Inter IKEA and Ikano—which were established in the 1980s.

Since 1988 Ingvar Kamprad has not had an operational role within IKEA but he continued to contribute to the business in the role of senior adviser.

In 2014 Kamprad, 88, left his roles on the boards of the two foundations that controlled IKEA's assets.

In a statement Inter IKEA Group chief executive and president Torbjörn Lööf said: “We are deeply saddened by Ingvar's passing. We will remember his dedication and commitment to always side with the many people. To never give up, always try to become better and lead by example”.

Kamprad has not appointed one clear family successor, and his three sons (pictured above with Kamprad) no longer have operational roles in the business.

His youngest son Mathias, 48, is chairman of Inter IKEA, his second son Jonas, 51, is on the board of Ikea Group, while his eldest son Peter, 53, is chairman of Ikano, a subsidiary with a group of companies offering a range of services from finance and insurance to the IKEA franchise rights in south-east Asia.

IKEA posted annual revenues of €36.3 billion ($43 billion) in the 12 months to 31 August 2017.

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