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  • Yoshi Wickenhaeuser

How IKEA started

IKEA is named after the initials of the founders Invar Kamprad, the family farm Elmtaryd and the local village Aguunaryd. It was founded in 1943 with the money Ingvar Kamprad got from his dad for doing well in school. It was only in 1948 that Kamprad’s company started to sell furniture.

This however made the other furniture stores feel threatened at the low prices of IKEA. They pressured the suppliers to boycott and tried to exclude Kamprad from going to furniture fairs. This led to IKEA starting to search for places to have their shops abroad. However, this was not accomplished till 1963. In this time IKEA published their first catalogue, opened its first showroom in Almhul and introduced the flat-pack (self-assembly products). Even though the flat-pack had already existed it was not very popular. For IKEA this was the solution to high costs and damage through transport. In 1960 the first restaurant was opened. The founder realised that people left the showroom at lunch so he opened a restaurant in the showroom so they didn't have to leave.

In 1963 IKEA opened its first branch outside of Sweden in Norway. Seven years later an IKEA sign caught fire causing lots of damage. However, this led it to open a self-service area which was very successful. In 1973 the first stores opened outside of Scandinavia, in Switzerland and Germany. Later in 1980 the founder Invar Kamprad wanted Ikea to have a different ownership structure. It was then decided that the franchise system would be used.

IKEA was introduced to Japan in 1983 but as the franchise system had just started there were some difficulties. This led to the store having to close. In 1998 Invar Kamprad heard of a major forest burn on the island of Borneo, Malaysia. He then set up a project to help the regrowth of the forest called “Sow a Seed”. 15 years later the first TV was launched and three years after that only LED lightbulbs were sold instead of regular bulbs.

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