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RUSSIA

Ikea founder ‘cried like a baby’ over Russian bribery scandal

Ikea's founder Ingvar Kamprad on Friday expressed "distress" over a bribery affair which has led to the firing of the Swedish furniture giant's two top managers of its Russian division.

Ikea founder 'cried like a baby' over Russian bribery scandal

“I sat in my old armchair and cried. I wept like a child because I was so sad,” he said in an interview with the Expressen newspaper.

“I am heartbroken about what happened,” he said. “I am very, very sorry.”

The company said on Saturday its “representatives in Russia agreed upon bribes being paid, related to power supply to Ikea-owned MEGA shopping centres in Saint Petersburg.”

“Two top managers have left their positions and Ikea with immediate effect,” the group added.

Kamprad is now 83-years-old and set up the Ikea flat-pack furniture firm in 1943 when a teenager.

He said he was informed last Friday that Per Kaufmann, whom he has known for 20 years, and Stefan Gross, had been fired for giving the go-ahead to bribes.

Kaufmann was the head of IKEA in Russia and Gross was IKEA’s director of real estate in the country.

“I don’t want to say anything before I know what is behind this,” Kamprad said, adding he had spoken to Kaufmann and “he is sorry, not for his own sake, but for Ikea’s sake, that things happened as they did,” he said.

Kamprad, who lives in tax exile in Switzerland, said he hoped the bribery affair would not hurt the group’s presence in the Russian market.

“I think most Russians understand our situation,” he said.

Ikea owns 12 shopping centres in Russia, all of which are home to an Ikea store and around 150 other tenants.

Ikea is an unlisted, family-owned company and traditionally does not release regular earnings reports.

At the end of last year, Kamprad was the richest man in his adopted Switzerland with a fortune valued at some €23 billion ($31 billion).

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IKEA

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.

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