Today we have been in Älmhult, a small town in southern Sweden which became IKEA’s cradle. We’ve got the whole story explained to us, which we are now telling you.
The story about Ingvar Kamprad and his IKEA, is the tale of how an ordinary little boy from a backward part of Sweden, with much ingenuity and hard work managed to create the world’s largest furniture empire in a few decades. His motto was:
“To create a better everyday life for the many people”
During the 50’s and 60’s nearly 2 million new homes were built in Sweden , many of them in large apartment buildings, intended for all those who moved from the countryside to the growing cities. These apartments, most with two rooms and a kitchen, had toilet with bathroom and hot and cold running water. But there was no furniture, and furniture was very expensive, for the most part completely handmade.
Kamprad saw as his task to provide the cheap, practical and beautiful furniture that could be offered at prices that all workers and employees could afford. And, at the pace that other countries’ workers were better off financially, the IKEA- concept grew and spread over the world.
IKEA is a Swedish multinational group of companies that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture appliances and home accessories. It has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since at least 2008. Founded in Sweden in 1943 by then-17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, who is now one of the ten richest people in the world and the owner of a more than 40 billion dollar fortune
it all started back in the 1920s. At the age of five Ingvar Kamprad starts selling matches to his nearby neighbors and by the time he is seven, he starts selling further afield, using his bicycle. He finds that he can buy matches in bulk cheaply in Stockholm and re-sell them individually at a very low price but still make a good profit. From matches he expands to selling flower seeds, greeting cards, Christmas tree decorations, and later pencils and ball-point pens.
In the 1940s and 1950s Ingvar Kamprad is entrepreneurial in developing IKEA into a furniture retailer. This period sees the exploration of furniture design, ready-to-assembly, advertising, the use of a catalogue and a showroom to reach the many people.
During the 1960s and 1970s the IKEA concept starts to take shape. New IKEA stores open and hero products are developed such as POÄNG and BILLY bookcase. It is a time where concept takes shape and is documented in Ingvar Kamprad’s The Testament of a Furniture Dealer.
In the 1980s IKEA expands dramatically into new markets such as USA, Italy, France and the UK. More IKEA classics arrive such as KLIPPAN, LACK and MOMENT. IKEA begins to take the form of today’s modern IKEA.
IKEA grows even more during the 1990s. Children’s IKEA is introduced and the focus is on home furnishing solutions to meet the needs of families with children. The IKEA Group is formed and responsibility for people and the environment is seen as a prerequisite for doing good business.
By 2000 IKEA expands into even more markets such as Japan and Russia. Everything for the bedroom and kitchen is explored and presented in furnishing solutions. This period also sees the successes of several partnerships regarding social and environmental projects.
Today 180 000 people works at IKEA all over the world, in 450 stores. Every Swedish buy goods at IKEA approximately SEK 250 000 (25 000 euro) in lifetime.