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SWITZERLAND

Staying private key to Ikea’s success: Kamprad

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad is determined to keep the Swedish furniture giant off the stock exchange, he told AFP ahead of the inauguration Monday of a fellowship in honour of his late wife.

Staying private key to Ikea's success: Kamprad

Kamprad, 86, told AFP in an email he had “always believed that keeping (Ikea) in private hands would give … more flexibility to develop successfully, allowing a longer-term perspective on business development.”

Kamprad’s comments came ahead of the opening Monday of the Margaretha Kamprad Chair of Environmental Science and Limnology at the EPFL technology institute in Lausanne.

Kamprad, who founded the unlisted, family-owned company in 1943, no longer gives interviews and did not speak at the event, but did answer a few questions electronically.

“Staying private has been one of the key reasons for Ikea’s tremendous success,” he insisted.

The world’s largest furniture retailer said last August that its trademark was worth €9.0 billion ($11.8 billion).

The company, which only releases annual earnings reports, posted a 10.3-percent hike in net profit in 2011 to nearly €3.0 billion on global sales of nearly €25 billion.

Kamprad, who lives in Lausanne, was himself listed last week by magazine Bilan as the richest man in Switzerland, with a net worth of up to 39 billion Swiss francs ($42 billion).

Per Heggenes, the head of the Stiching Ikea Foundation charity behind the fellowship inaugurated on Monday, told AFP the magazine had mistakenly attributed to Kamprad the value of Ikea, which has a complex ownership structure through several foundations.

“Mr Kamprad does not own Ikea and is not the richest person in Switzerland,” he said, also insisting that the Ikea founder’s reputation for frugality was no mere image stunt.

Kamprad, who is known to drive around in an old Volvo when in Sweden, fly economy class and even ride free Ikea buses when visiting his stores, “is personally not very interested in material goods,” he said.

“He lives a frugal life because that is his nature. He also believes that frugality, or constant cost consciousness, is another key value that has contributed greatly to Ikea’s business success,” he added.

AFP/The Local

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WEATHER

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

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