The very first IKEA was built in southern Sweden in a locality called Älmhult. IKEA all started with one young boy named Ingvar Kamprad, who figured out how to buy and sell items to make a profit at the age of five. IKEA is spelled in all capital letters because the first two letters are initials and the second two is a place. I.K stands for “Ingvar Kamprad”. The second two letters is the name of the farm and village that he grew up in. “Elmtaryd” was the name of the farm and “Agunnaryd” was the name of the village. At the age of 17 Ingvar’s father had rewarded him with money for being a good student, Ingvar decided to use it to open his own business. Ingvar opened the first IKEA 1943, but the business did not yet sell furniture out of store just yet. For the first five years the business was running, it was a mostly mail-order sales business. Between 1947 and 1955 Ingvar was selling furniture that was being made by local manufacturers. Manufacturers became unhappy about the low prices that their furniture was being sold at, so they began to boycott. Therefore, Ingvar decided to start making his own designs in his house. Then, the light bulb went off. He started to sell his goods in flat pack. “Thus the basic IKEA concept – simple, affordable flat-pack furniture, designed, distributed and sold in-house – was complete.” (“Founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad – The Real Story.”)
Ingvar had created a revolution. Customers love the company; easy to assemble, modern design, with low prices you cannot find anywhere else. Along with how it is also makes for an entertaining day. Walking through an IKEA, is a lot to take in, containing all the furniture being sold at display, a restaurant and a childrens play area. Factories also love the idea of Ingvar having these very large orders. Since the orders are so large, this made lower purchasing prices. This allowed the low prices that the items were being sold at. Ingvar has always had a goal in mind for IKEA. It is “…to secure longevity and independence for his business and concept. Ingvar wants to create a system and structure that will always be able to act in the best interests of the business and the many people.” (“Milestones in Our History.”) Ingvar wanted to expand and go international, although he is worried for the security and the main concept of his brand to be tampered with. In 1980, Ingvar decided to franchise his business and keep separate roles in independent business groups. From this, Inter IKEA Systems B.V is established in the Netherlands. IKEA continued to grow and today has over three-hundred stores in forty countries.
IKEA tries as best as any other company would to be ethical and socially responsible with their decisions. IKEA works to be environmentally friendly. A spokeswoman from Inter IKEA came out and said; “sixty percent of IKEA’s range is based on renewable materials, while nearly ten percent contain recycled materials.” (Desk) IKEA is also extremely committed to helping with issues that affect children. IKEA works with UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund) a lot, and has given over one hundred and eighty million dollars in cash and donations. IKEA and UNICEF’s partnership had also blossomed another program called “€1 is a fortune!”. Over the span of five years the program has brought fourteen million dollars in to support education programs for children in need around the world. IKEA also works to support gender equality within the company and makes sure their employees have a voice. Women take up fifty-four percent of all IKEA employees. Even forty-eight percent of IKEA managers are women. In 2015, IKEA created a new minimum wage structure. The amount of money you made as an employee depends on the need of the employee.
Ingvar built a business from the ground up. He figured most of it out at age five, buying a lot of matches in and selling them cheap to make a profit. That is still how he runs his business today. Ingvar stayed humble throughout his whole life. With a net worth of fifty-eight point seven billion, making him the eighth richest man in the world, he still drove a 1970’s Volvo until the day he died in 2018. His whole life was about making other people’s lives easier and more affordable. Donating as much as he could to UNICEF to help children, and trying hard to make his company more sustainable, Ingvar cared about more than the money he was making off of the amazing company he built.
- “Business.un.org.” United Nations, United Nations, business.un.org/en/documents/8372.
- “Founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad – The Real Story.” Sweden.se, 29 Jan. 2018, sweden.se/business/ingvar-kamprad-founder-of-ikea/.
- “Milestones in Our History.” Milestones in Our History – Inter IKEA Group, inter.ikea.com/en/about-us/milestones/.
- Retail, GlobalData. “IKEA Eco-Friendly Furniture: Young Price-Conscious Shopper Appeal.” Verdict Retail, 3 Apr. 2019, www.retail-insight-network.com/comment/ikea-eco-friendly-furniture/.