Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In 1994 the personal letters of the Swedish fascist activist Per Engdahl were made public after his death, and it was revealed that Kamprad had joined Engdahl's pro-Nazi group in 1942. Kamprad had raised funds for and recruited members to said group at least as late as September 1945. When Kamprad quit the group is unknown, but he remained a friend of Engdahl until the early 1950s.Since the public revelation Kamprad has said that he bitterly regrets that part of his life, calling it his greatest mistake and he subsequently wrote letters of apology to all IKEA employees of Jewish descent. It is believed that the fact that IKEA is one of the few retailers to have a store in Israel even though it also does business with the Arab world reflects an attempt to temper this controversy.
According to Swedish business weekly Veckans Affärer, he is the wealthiest person in the world. This report is based on the assumption that Kamprad owns the entire company, an approach that both IKEA and the Kamprad family reject. Kamprad personally retains little ownership in the company, having transferred his interest to Stichting INGKA Foundation and INGKA Holding as part of a complex tax sheltering scheme that leaves his actual degree of control vague.
As at March 2005, the sliding value of the U.S. dollar put Kamprad ahead as the richest person in the world in another report. In March 2008, Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at US$31 billion, making him the 7th richest person in the world.
FORBES TOP 10 (in $bn):
- Warren Buffett (US): 62
- Carlos Slim (Mexico): 60
- Bill Gates (US): 58
- Lakshmi Mittal (India): 45
- Mukesh Ambani (India): 43
- Anil Ambani (India): 42
- Ingvar Kamprad (Sweden): 31
- KP Singh (India): 30
- Oleg Deripaska (Russia): 28
- Karl Albrecht (Germany): 27
Ingvar Kamprad was born on a farm called Elmtaryd (now spelled Älmtaryd), near the small village of Agunnaryd in Ljungby Municipality in the province of Småland, Sweden. Kamprad began to develop a business as a young boy, selling matches to neighbors from his bicycle. He found that he could buy matches in bulk very cheaply from Stockholm, sell them individually at a low price and still make a good profit. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds and later ball-point pens and pencils. When Kamprad was 17, his father gave him a reward for succeeding in his studies . He used this money to establish what has grown into IKEA.
The acronym IKEA is made up of the initials of his name (Ingvar Kamprad) plus those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born; and the nearby village Agunnaryd.
Kamprad has admitted that his dyslexia played a large part in the inner workings of the company. For example, the Swedish-sounding names of the furniture sold by IKEA were originally chosen by Kamprad because he had difficulty remembering numeral stock-keeping units.
Kamprad has lived in Epalinges, Switzerland since 1976. According to an interview with TSR, the French language Swiss TV broadcaster, Kamprad drives a 15 year old Volvo, flies only economy class, and encourages IKEA employees to always write on both sides of a paper. In addition Kamprad has been known to visit IKEA for a cheap meal. He is also known to buy Christmas paper and presents in the post-Christmas sales. While Kamprad's frugality is well documented, it is also an important part of the carefully managed image presented to IKEA employees and the general public. He less frequently mentions that he owns a villa in an upmarket part of Switzerland, a large country estate in Sweden and a vineyard in Provence in France or that he drove a Porsche for several years.While working with furniture manufacturers in Poland earlier in his career, Kamprad became an alcoholic. He has however stated that his drinking is now under control.