Ikea founder donates millions to ‘hometown’ Swedish university

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad's annual Christmas speech to his employees in Älmhult, home to the world's first Ikea store, contained a welcome Christmas bonus for the whole Småland region.

Ikea founder donates millions to 'hometown' Swedish university

Together with Inter Ikea, Kamprad has donated nearly 1 billion kronor ($146 million) to the newly-formed Kamprad Family Foundation.

“This is something he’s been thinking about for a long time. Småland is special to him, and he wanted to do something for the people and the area that’s closest to his heart,” said the Kamprad family’s spokesman Per Heggenes to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The foundation will be hand out large sums of money annually to support research, mainly at the Linneaus University, in Kamprad’s native region Småland, in southern Sweden.

However, national and international research may also be supported.

“My family and I are very happy to be able to create this foundation for our beloved Småland together with the Linneaus University and Inter Ikea, after years of preparations,” said Ingvar Kamprad in a statement.

The foundation will promote projects which focus on entrepreneurship, environmental issues and medical research, and those hoping to cash in might want to start preparing their applications.

The first grant application period will open in the autumn of 2012.

On top of the starting capital of 950 million kronor, the Inter Ikea group will donate 270 million kronor annually, if business results allow.

The region’s Linneaus University is delighted to be a part of the foundation.

“This is a lot of money. It’s naturally the biggest thing to have happened to this region,” said Lena Fritzén, board member of the Kamprad Family Foundation and deputy president of Linnaeus University.

Ikea, founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, is the world’s largest home furnishings retailer, and something of a Swedish landmark.

In 2010, the company’s global turnover amounted to some 230 billion kronor.

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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.