According to the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment, the failure rate for Kiwi businesses is somewhere between 20 percent and 48 percent depending on their size. These figures are more or less globally applicable. So when Ikea's founder Ingvar Kamprad founded his flat-pack furniture company, he almost certainly didn't expect to see it become a global business worth more than EU35 billion.
Kamprad passed away at his home in Småland, the southern Swedish town of his birth, at the age of 91 on January 27. He founded the Ikea furniture empire in 1943, when he was just 17, with what the company describes as “a vision of creating a better everyday life for the many people”.
The name Ikea is formed from Kamprad’s initials, and the first letters of Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd – the farm and the parish where Ingvar grew up. Ikea originally sold small consumer-goods objects like pens, wallets and jewellery via individual sales calls made by Kamprad himself, but by 1948, Kamprad had shifted to a mail-order model and started selling furniture.
The first Ikea store opened in 1958 at Älmhult, Sweden, boasting the largest furniture display in Scandinavia at the time. A new Ikea store replaced this outlet in 2012, with Kamprad there to welcome the first customers, and an Ikea museum now stands in its place.
Kamprad has not had an operational role within Ikea since 1988, but continued to act as a senior advisor to the business.
“We are deeply saddened by Ingvar’s passing. We will remember his dedication and commitment to always side with the many people. To never give up, always try to become better and lead by example”, says Torbjörn Lööf, CEO and president of Ikea’s worldwide franchisor company, Inter IKEA Group.
Ikea has 412 stores in 49 markets. For some years now, Kiwi consumers have keenly anticipated the arrival of Ikea on Kiwi shores, but the company has refrained from commenting on its plans for New Zealand. A Facebook page called ‘Bring Ikea to NZ’ has more than 19,000 likes.
Earlier in January, New Zealand architecture, retail design and property consulting company RCG confirmed it had been working with Ikea on a market research project. Associate director John Polkinghorne declined to share any detail about the work.