Kamprad return ‘part of a rich man trend’

Ikea founder and multi-billionaire Ingvar Kamprad's announcement that he plans to move back to Sweden is part of a long-term trend of rich people heading home following changes to wealth taxes, according to a media report.

Kamprad return 'part of a rich man trend'

“Sweden is not a high-tax country anymore,” explained Carl Pihlgren, a tax lawyer at Ernst & Young, to the Dagens Industri (DI) daily.

The Local reported last week that 87-year-old Kamprad plans to spend his final years at home on the family farm in Älmhult in Småland in southern Sweden.

Changes to the tax regime, specifically property, wealth and inheritance taxes, introduced by the current government mean that Kamprad will only pay tax on future income.

The billionaire founder of the Ikea flat-pack furniture chain Ikea is currently the fifth richest person in the world and has lived in Switzerland since the 1970s.

Kamprad is not the only wealthy Swede heading home confident that their amassed fortunes won’t be claimed by the state. Dagens Industri (DI) names H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson who has been a Sweden resident since 2009.

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According to Pihlgren, his firm has received an increase in inquiries from wealthy Swedes based overseas who are considering the move, testimony backed up by the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket).

“Tax experts we have spoken to say that it is no longer favourable to have hidden capital overseas,” said Margareta Nysträm at the agency to DI.

“We have no inheritance tax, no wealth taxes, no property tax (replaced by a municipal levy). An increasing number of exiled Swedes are moving home in their old age,” Pihlgren said.

Sweden’s inheritance tax was abolished by the Social Democrat-led government in 2005, while the current centre-right Alliance coalition government jettisoned the wealth tax in 2007 and property taxes in 2008.

Following the abolition of wealth taxes, the tax agency no longer keeps tabs on the assets of Swedes, and thus exact statistics are no longer held on the movements of the wealthy.

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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.