From Rags to Carpets: IKEA Family Business

by NxtGen Nexus | Nov 29, 2023 | Celebrating Family Business

IKEA logotype printed on cardboard box package delivered from IKEA online Store at the front door of a residence.
Shutterstock Yaoinlove

If you’ve ever had to move to a bare house or apartment, chances are you’ve to buy one or two items from a certain store that seems to have it all. Founded by a young entrepreneur by the name of Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, IKEA started off in a very modest way. Kamprad first began his firm by largely selling household goods by mail order, including watches, wallets, picture frames, and pencils. However, IKEA’s renowned flat-pack furniture concept was first unveiled in 1956, marking the company’s significant achievement.

The Kamprad Family Origins

At the heart of IKEA was its founder and the place where it all started, “Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.” Elmtaryd was the farm where Kamprad grew up and Agunnaryd was his hometown in Sweden. Born on March 30th, 1926 in Sweden, he founded the business at 17 and grew it into the global furniture juggernaut it is today.

From an early age, Kamprad’s thrifty and enterprising drive was evident. Prior to beginning to offer other goods like pens, wallets, and picture frames by mail order, he started out by selling matches to his neighbors. The future expansion of IKEA was made possible by the success of these early endeavors.

The company remained a privately held family firm notwithstanding Ingvar Kamprad’s leadership as its founder. The activities of the business were still largely within the Kamprad family’s ownership and control. As is typical with privately held businesses, specifics regarding family involvement and ownership stakes were not generally made public.

Peter, Jonas, and Mathias Kamprad were three of Ingvar Kamprad’s sons who worked for the family business in various roles. Peter Kamprad in particular, one of Ingvar’s sons, held executive positions in the business. However, the family’s managerial positions were temporary, and non-family executives have also held senior positions in the business. It’s important to note that IKEA’s success and its continuous expansion as a global brand have been greatly influenced by the Kamprad family’s dedication to the company’s principles and mission.

Simplicity, Suitability, and Sustainability

Simple — “Democratic Design,” one of IKEA’s key tenets, aspires to provide goods that are attractive, useful, sustainable, and reasonably priced. This strategy guarantees that excellent design is affordable for as many individuals as possible, irrespective of their income. In short, you don’t have to be rolling in money to have a good home.

Suitable —  IKEA’s design ethos is focused on producing goods that satisfy the preferences and needs of consumers from all cultures and backgrounds. To create items relevant and appealing to a broad audience, the company’s designers strive to comprehend worldwide trends while also adding local inspirations. While IKEA is well-known for its minimalist designs, they have designs that honor the traditions of the cities and countries they branch out to.

Sustainable — IKEA is dedicated to preserving the environment and has set high standards for reducing its environmental effect. The business emphasizes adopting environmentally friendly materials, cutting energy use, encouraging renewable energy, and putting waste reduction plans into action.

The furniture company champions the idea of a circular economy, in which products are made to be durable, repairable, and recyclable. The business offers repair services to help consumers prolong the life of their furniture and encourages customers to return used items for recycling. Actively participating in a number of partnerships and social programs aimed at enhancing the lives of people in the areas in which it works, the business supports initiatives that promote children’s rights, poverty alleviation, and disaster assistance.

The IKEA Group Legacy

Apart from its aim at sustainability and accessibility when it comes to furniture, IKEA has taken a leading role in charitable causes and social activities, demonstrating the company’s dedication to supporting the communities it serves. The company’s charitable arm is called The IKEA Foundation, which was founded in 1982. The foundation’s goal is to make life better for families and kids in some of the most underprivileged areas in the world. It focuses on assisting initiatives that promote better living conditions, children’s rights, and education.

Apart from championing their own philanthropic causes, the family business has also been a long-time ally to Save the Children, a global non-governmental organization that supports and aids in emergency response, education, health, and protection while focusing on children’s rights.

IKEA initiated its yearly “Soft Toys for Education” campaign in 1994, which marked the beginning of its collaboration with Save the Children. The company is supporting education initiatives sponsored by Save the Children and UNICEF through this campaign. By donating a portion of the proceeds from each soft toy or kid’s book sold during the holiday season, they have made a big impact throughout the years.

To give children access to a high-quality education, school supplies, and learning opportunities, the money generated via this campaign has been used to assist educational programs in some of the world’s poorest communities. This long-standing family business serves as an inspiration for how businesses may use their assets, brand influence, and customer base to support important social issues.

Founder Bids Farewell

After decades of building up the family business and going global, Ingvar Kamprad stepped from the board of Inter IKEA Holding SA, the company that controls the IKEA brand and concept, in 2013. Still, he remained a senior advisor until his passing on January 27, 2018, in Sweden at the age of 91.

After the passing of the family’s patriarch, IKEA’s ownership was transferred to Inter IKEA Holding SA. Inter IKEA Holding SA, and the Interogo foundation were all formed by Kamprad. Since he never gave the firm away to anyone or permitted it to go public, Kamprad had the option of keeping ownership of IKEA if he so desired. But he decided to give Inter IKEA Holding SA ownership of the company instead.

At present, IKEA is one of the biggest furniture companies in the world today, with locations in many countries across the globe and a broad selection of products to meet all types of home furnishing requirements. The business’s distinctive fusion of useful designs, accessibility, and affordability has elevated it to ubiquity on a worldwide scale.