Ingvar Kamprad Extends Affluence

Whether by accident or design, there was a beautiful balance in Monday's tabloid headlines. While Aftonbladet proclaimed that Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, has overtaken Bill Gates as the world's richest man, Expressen screamed out: "Sandra, 22, seriously burned by IKEA candle".

The store, however, says that Sandra “used the candle wrongly”. Her mistake, it seems, was to blow the ‘Glimma’ tea light out. This led to a build up of gas which exploded, “burning her face and shoulder so badly that she had to go to hospital”.

But IKEA were unrepentant. “You really need to know how to use these candles,” said an information officer. “They should be snuffed out very carefully.”

The consumer complaints board poured cold water on such nonsense, however, and awarded Sandra over SEK6,000 in compensation.

While that amount won’t make much of a dent in Ingvar Kamprad’s pocket, he won’t be too happy about it. The businessman, who, according to Veckans Affärer, is now worth SEK400 billion ($53 billion), is famously frugal. He always travels economy class and apparently waits until the afternoon to buy fruit and vegetables at his local market – because that’s when the traders drop their prices.

The figure is based on the assumption that Kamprad is still the sole owner of the store, but IKEA deny this. A release from their information office – who were working overtime this week – tersely explained that this was a common error.

“The company is owned by a charitable trust in Holland, and Ingvar Kamprad does not own this trust. Therefore he is not worth what the company is worth.”

Whether that’s true or not, Aftonbladet won’t let pass an opportunity to tell readers what they could get for SEK400 billion: “501 million Billy bookshelves or 32,000 ‘Göran Persson’ farms.”


Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.