What is the legacy of Ikea founder Kamprad?
Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad - one of the richest people in the world according to Forbes - died aged 91 on Saturday. A miser, a visionary business founder, a man of legendary stubbornness who defined Sweden's image across the globe: Europe's papers paint a multifaceted picture of the entrepreneur.
More famous than Pippi Longstocking
Hardly anyone has had such a decisive influence on Sweden's image as the late entrepreneur, Dagens Nyheter writes:
“Not only because his creation - Ikea - employs over 150,000 people around the world and furnishes homes on practically every continent. In addition, millions of people have come to know words like Blårips, Signe and Kivik - a cultural achievement that will be next to impossible to equal in our lifetime. Kamprad was one of a handful of people who personally assembled the image of our country. If you ask people what things they associate with Sweden in the last hundred years, they might say 'nothing' - or the Nobel Prize, Volvo, Greta Garbo, Pippi Longstocking, Abba, or even Björn Borg and Zlatan. But you can be sure that most of them will spontaneously say 'Ikea'.”
Trailblazer when it came to focus on customer
The Russian edition of Forbes Magazine praises Kamprad as someone who revolutionised the retail trade with his idea of customer orientation:
“'Business means love. If you can't win people's hearts you won't be able to sell them a thing', Kamprad said. ... The fruit of his life's work - a company whose stores are visited by a tenth of the world's population every year - forces us to heed his words. ... This Swedish businessman who never completed his formal education pioneered the use of behavioural psychology in the retail trade. Thanks to him, the instruments used in Ikea stores are dealt with in almost all the guides on marketing and sales.”
Thriftiness was Kamprad's recipe for success
Kamprad owed his success to his unconventional business practices:
“He didn't want to borrow money needlessly or become dependent on a bank. The stores belonged to him and he refused to list the company on the stock exchange. Instead he's left behind him a network of foundations located in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. The whole construction is aimed at minimising transparency - and taxes. ... He was extremely successful, even if he was fond of denying it in television interviews. And of course he'd refer to his years in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement. They were unforgivable. But the Swedes bought his apologies and the world will continue to buy his furniture. Because it's cheap and because the quality standards are now adequate.”