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Ikea founder moves home to Sweden after 40 years

By Tess De La Mare

The octogenarian founder of Swedish furniture giant Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, has moved back to the home country, where he founded the family business, after four decades abroad.

Kamprad, 87, quit Sweden in 1973 in protest against the country's high taxes, initially moving to Denmark before settling in Switzerland in 1976.

He first announced his plans in the summer of 2013, but heart and back problems delayed the move according to the Kamprad family's spokesman.

According to local newspaper the Smalandsposten, he has returned the municipality of Almhult, which is his birthplace and where a lot of his family live, and is also the home of the very first Ikea store.

Kamprad stepped down from the board of Inter Ikea Holding, the furniture chain's holding company in June last year, but he is still heavily involved in product development. At the time of his announcement it was also revealed his son, Mathias, would become board chairman.

He said at the time that he was just as passionate about the brand and the Ikea concept as ever.

"I will continue to spend time in the stores and in the factories to work with people and help achieve constant improvement. Our journey has just started," he added.

A lot of the company's product development is carried out at Almhult.

Kamprad, worth $4.1 billion (€3 billion) according to Forbes, is famous for his thrift – driving a 15-year-old Volvo, flying economy class and even preferring Ikea's cafés over fancy restaurants because he can get a cheap meal there.

He founded the €30 billion-per-year furniture chain in 1943 as a mail order business selling stationary, Christmas decorations and other mass-produced goods, before moving into furniture in 1948.

He hit upon the flat-pack furniture idea in 1956 when an employee removed the legs of a table to prevent it getting damaged in transit.