Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Flat-pack billionaire who never lived down his Nazi past

business nazi fascism politics
In 1994, the Stockholm newspaper Expressen revealed that Kamprad had joined
a Swedish fascist party in 1943 and was a proud member in 1950
For a multi-billionaire, Ingvar Kamprad appeared to live an ostentatiously frugal life. He drove a 15-year-old white Volvo, wore second-hand clothes, bought fruit and vegetables late in the afternoon so he could haggle the prices down and only had his hair cut when travelling in developing countries, as it was cheaper.

There was no private jet — he flew economy — and he stayed in budget rather than swanky hotels where he would abstain from costly mini bars.

There were extravagances, but even they were slight — a pinch of snuff or a dollop of Swedish fish roe. And, if he was feeling devilish, a nice new shirt and cravat.

It seems a strange life for a chap who, in 2004, overtook Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man, but his domestic austerity chimed beautifully with his business ethos.

Kamprad — who has died aged 91 in his sleep at his bungalow in Smaland, Sweden — was the founder of Ikea, the low-cost flat- pack furniture company that brought stylish living to the masses, caused endless marital flare-ups (who has not been close to blows when tackling a set of his ‘simple and easy to follow’ assembly instructions?) and which is now worth about £51 billion.

Ikea’s success was achieved, Kamprad maintained, by frugality, building warehouse-type shops on cheap land, buying materials at a discount, packaging items in boxes to be assembled at home by the buyer and keeping things simple and affordable.  (more...)


business nazi fascism politics

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