‘Sweden is a tax paradise’: Ikea adviser

A leading figure behind both Ikea and Tetra Pak's decisions to move their headquarter beyond Sweden's borders has said Sweden is making major strides on the road to becoming a more business-friendly nation.

Tax expert Göran Grosskopf, chairman of Ingka Holding, Ikea’s parent company, was instrumental in moving both the flatpack furnisher and packaging giant Tetra Pak out of Sweden for tax purposes. Ikea left for Denmark in 1973 before later switching to the Netherlands, while Tetra Pak set up headquarters in Switzerland in 1981.

But writing in a newsletter ahead of the Transfer of Ownership in Private Businesses conference, to be held in Stockholm at the end of March, Grosskopf claims the companies would have remained on home turf had today’s tax system been in place at the time.

By abolishing inheritance tax, gift tax and wealth tax, Sweden has become attractive to business owners who previously struggled to build up private savings outside of their companies, he claimed

“It’s very important for Sweden and is a fantastically positive development. Sweden is a tax paradise if you set aside income tax. Businesspeople think this is great,” said Grosskopf.

There are however two barriers preventing Sweden from reaching its full potential, according to the Switzerland-based businessman.

“Firstly, a lack of confidence that the reforms will remain in place and, secondly, the fact that Sweden still has both direct and indirect income tax on employment,” he said.

Grosskopf said that both Ikea and Rausing family enterprise Tetra Pak would “without a doubt” have stayed in Sweden if today’s tax conditions had been in place earlier, and if they could be assured that the tax system would remain stable in the long term.

“Taxation of companies and owners is no longer an argument against Sweden, it is an argument in favour of Sweden, said Grosskopf.

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Danish Ikea store shelters staff and customers overnight during snowstorm

Heavy snowfall left 31 people looking for a spare cushion at the Aalborg branch of Ikea on Wednesday as they were forced to spend the night at the store.

A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021.
A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Anyone who has found themselves wandering the mazy aisles of an Ikea might be able to empathise with the sense of being lost in the furniture store for a seemingly indefinite time.

Such a feeling was probably more real than usual for six customers and 25 staff members who were forced to spend the night at the furniture giant’s Aalborg branch after being snowed in.

Heavy snow in North Jutland brought traffic to a standstill and halted public transport in parts of the region on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a snow-in at Ikea.

“This is certainly a new situation for us,” Ikea Aalborg store manager Peter Elmose told local media Nordjyske, which first reported the story.

“It’s certainly not how I thought my day would end when I drove to work this morning,” Elmose added.

The 31 people gathered in the store’s restaurant area and planned to see Christmas television and football to pass the evening, the store’s manager reported to Nordjyske.

“Our kitchen staff have made sure there is hot chocolate, risalamande, pastries, soft drinks, coffee and the odd beer for us in light of the occasion. So we’ll be able to keep warm,” he said.

“We couldn’t just send them outside and lock the door behind them at our 8pm closing time. Absolutely not. So of course they’ll be staying here,” he added.

The temporary guests were given lodging in different departments of the store in view of the Covid-19 situation, Nordjyske writes.

“For us , the most important thing was to take care of each other and that everyone feels safe,” Elmose said.

At least Ikea’s stranded customers and staff had somewhere comfortable to lay their heads.

The same can unlikely be said for around 300 passengers at the city’s airport who had to stay overnight at the terminal.

The airport was forced to stop flights from 2:30pm yesterday amid worsening weather, which also prevented buses from transferring passengers to hotels.

“We have around 300 people in the terminal right now and have been giving out blankets on the assumption they will be staying here tonight,” Aalborg Airport operations manager Kim Bermann told Nordjyske.

READ ALSO: Ikea reopens in Denmark after country’s worst retail month this century