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Introducing...Ingvar Kamprad

Paul O'Mahony · 2 Jan 2007, 13:45

Published: 02 Jan 2007 13:45 GMT+01:00

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Who is he and why is he famous?

Ingvar Kamprad is famous for being the founder of flat-pack furnishing giant IKEA. His cheap chairs and tables have made him one of the wealthiest people in the world.

So he's the one responsible for the Klippan-sized headache I got while assembling the Magiker that I ended up throwing in the Knodd?

Yes, the very man. But unlike his desk, he's no Jerker. Some reckon that he is in fact the wealthiest person in the world. But company finances are cryptic and nobody can quite work out what he's worth.

Is he in the news for anything other than being ikeatastically rich?

Yes, he is actually. For one thing, an end of year survey ranked him the second most admired man in the country, which is not bad for an 80-year-old tax exile.

And the other thing?

Oh yes, he accidentally revealed company profits while making a Christmas speech, which IKEA never does.

Go on, tell me. Make me cry.

It seems IKEA made a profit of 25 billion kronor in the last financial year, which will get you more Gutvik bed frames than you can shake a stick at.

Gutvik? That sounds a bit like when German people comment on the quality of their sexual intercourse.

Yes, it does a bit now that you mention it. Which makes sense, because 10 per cent of all Europeans currently alive were conceived in IKEA beds, such as the Dalselv to name just one.

Whatever possessed him to give all the products funny-sounding Scandinavian names?

Apparently it's because he's dyslexic and always had trouble remembering product codes. If you've heard that it's because he flirted with Swedish Nazis during the Second World War and thinks everybody should be forced into an inflexible Nordic mould, then you're wrong.

What? I never heard anything of the sort. Is that really true about his flirtation?

It is. He signed up with a group of Nazi sympathizers in 1942, one year before founding IKEA at the age of seventeen. He later said that there is nothing in his life he regrets more. When all this emerged in 1994 Kamprad wrote letters of apology to all IKEA employees of Jewish descent.

Flipping heck, at least he took a good look at himself in the Sandefjord and realised that he had been a fool. What does he do for kicks these days?

Well, he's 80 years old now and is still in charge of the whole show. He was recently quoted as saying "I don't have time for dying".

Who does these days? You won't find him lounging about in a Skruvsta then?

You certainly will not. You might find him driving a fifteen year old Volvo on the streets of Lausanne in Switzerland, or flying economy class to one of the world's many IKEAs to shake hands with some 'co-workers' as he calls them in his egalitarian manner.

Story continues below…

Old Volvos and economy class? Next you'll be telling me he doesn't wear suits and likes to bake brownies.

You're right. He never wears suits. Don't know about the second part. But he does believe in the value of hard work, like the true Smålänning he is.

A Smålänning? Is that a chair or a bed? I can never remember.

No, no, it's a person from Småland in southern Sweden. They're a famously frugal and hard-working bunch, not ones to waste time. In the words of the man himself, "Time is your most important asset. Split your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few as possible to meaningless activity."

Meaningless activity? Like trying to assemble a Faktum kitchen cupboard without an Allen key?


Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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