Ikea chief wants to ‘support social causes’

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad has said he is keen to do a lot more to help people in need, according to the Dutch foundation that owns the Swedish furniture giant.

Ikea chief wants to 'support social causes'

Kamprad aims to loosen restrictions on his massive charity, lawyer Torbjörn Sköld,

who sits on the board of the Dutch-based Stichting Ingka Foundation that owns

Ikea, told AFP on Tuesday.

Sköld said the 82-year-old founder “wants to open the foundation to do more.”

In 2006, The Economist reported that Stichting Ingka Foundation, registered in the Netherlands as a non-profit-making legal entity, could be worth as much as $36 billion, far ahead of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $26.9-billion value that year.

Yet the Ikea foundation, unlike the Gates Foundation’s work to fight poverty, dedicates all its charity work to “innovation in the field of architectural and interior design,” and, according to The Economist report at the time, it was unclear how much money had gone even to charity in that area.

Swedish financial daily Dagens Industri however reported on Tuesday that Kamprad, who controls Ikea through his chairmanship in Stichting, had his hands tied when it came to what the charity money could be used for due to initial restrictions when the fund was created in 1982.

Sköld told AFP that Kamprad had applied to a Dutch court to change the foundation restriction so charity money could be used for social causes, like for instance offering aid in the case of a natural catastrophe.

“This is a stable foundation and in the Netherlands that means you have to go to court to change the restrictions,” Sköld said, insisting that the move was not linked to the criticism in The Economist report.

He pointed out to Dagens Industri that when the foundation was first created, Ikea was much smaller.

“Now the company has grown and there is more money available in the funds, and if feels silly that the funds cannot support social causes when needed,” he told the paper.


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.