Ingvar Feodor Kamprad is a Swedish businessman. He is the creator of the famous and one of the largest furniture retail companies of the world ‘IKEA’. He is one of world’s wealthiest people and most successful entrepreneurs.
Kamprad was born on 30th March 1926 in Pjätteryd, Sweden. He grew up on a farm called Elmtaryd situated in a small village of Agunnaryd. As a young boy he started to get involved in small business deals. Initially, he sold matches in the neighborhood. Then he went on to selling Christmas tree decorations, fish and then pens and pencils. He had a very good business sense and taught himself many business tricks. At the age of 17, he was rewarded some cash by his father for getting good grades in his studies.
Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943 at his Uncle Ernst’s kitchen table. IKEA was basically an acronym of his name Ingvar Kamprad and Elmtaryd, his family farm and the village Agunnaryd. At first the business was typically mail-order and included only small household goods such as picture frames, wallets, nylon stockings, pens and wallets. Five years later he expanded to include furniture. The furniture was delivered in trucks to homes as well as train stations. Despite his dyslexia problem the company flourished. By 1950s all other goods were removed from IKEA’s catalog and the prime focus was kept on furniture only. Kamprad started feeling pressurized by the intense competition and in 1953 decided to open up a showroom in Almhult.
In order to eliminate the storage costs and lower the shipping costs Kamprad came up with the idea of selling furniture that the consumers could assemble themselves. In the following years he continued to come up with various unique ideas of turning customer needs to retail prospects. The first consumer retail warehouse was opened in 1965 in Stockholm. Within 2 decades the store had expanded worldwide to 114 outlets in 25 countries. Most of these stores are owned by a privately operated INGKA Foundation which is a charitable organization. Ingvar Kamprad is the chairman and founder of this foundation.
Despite the fact that Kamprad owns several estates and properties, he is known for being very frugal. This persona is also part of his publicity for IKEA and this is the example he wants to set for his employees as well. According to ‘Veckans Affärer’, a Swedish magazine he is one of the richest people of the world. According to Forbes magazine, Ingvar Kamprad was the 4th wealthiest person of the world in 2007 with a net worth of $33 billion. In 2010, his wealth decreased to $23 billion making him 11th the world’s richest person. In October 2012, Ingvar Kamprad was the 5th richest person according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $42.6 billion and as of March 2013 his net worth was calculated to be $3.3 billion due to transferring of his equity in IKEA irrevocably to entities beyond his control.
Kamprad was known to be pro-Nazi however he realized this mistake, publicly apologized and wrote letters to his workers admitting his blunder.