• ikea store

How Did IKEA Go From A Small Swedish Business To A World-Wide Brand?


At the age of five, Ingvar Kamprad started selling matches to his neighbors.
By the time he was seven, he started selling further afield, using his bicycle.
He worked out he could buy matches in bulk cheaply in Stockholm and re-sell them individually at a low price, but still make a good profit.
From matches, this young entrepreneur expanded his ‘business’, selling flower seeds, greeting cards, Christmas tree decorations, and later pencils and ball-point pens.


When Ingvar was 17, his father gave him money as a reward for doing well in his studies.
He used this money to establish his own business.
IKEA originally sold pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewellery and nylon stockings – meeting needs with products at reduced prices.

ikea brand

Did you know….

The name IKEA is formed from the founder’s initials (I.K.) plus the first letters of Elmtaryd (E) and Agunnaryd (A), the farm and village where he grew up.


Ingvar’s business outgrew his ability to make individual sales calls, so he began advertising in local newspapers and operating a makeshift mail-order service.
He used the local milk van to deliver products to the nearby railway station.


This is the first time furniture was introduced to the IKEA range.
The furniture was produced by local manufacturers in the forests close to Ingvar’s home.
The response was positive and the line expanded.


The first IKEA catalogue was published in 1951 to help sell the range on a larger scale.
Then, in 1953, the first furniture showroom opened in Älmhult, Sweden.
This was a key moment for the business as it was the first time customers could actual see and touch the products before buying them.
Interestingly, the showroom came about as a result of a ‘price war’ with its main competitor.
As both companies lowered their prices, quality was threatened so the showroom was a chance to show the function and quality of its products.

ikea flat pack


This was a key moment for the company as it started designing furniture for flat packs and self-assembly.
Ironically, the decision for IKEA to design its own furniture stemmed from competitors pressure for suppliers to boycott the company.
One of the first IKEA co-workers removed the legs of the LÖVET table so that it would fit into a car and avoid damage during transit.
After this discovery, flat packs and self assembly became part of the concept.


The first IKEA store opened in Sweden and it had the largest furniture display in Scandinavia, with 6,700 square metres of home furnishings.
By 1959 the 100th co-worker joined IKEA.


During this time IKEA expanded.
It started designing more furniture, such as the ÖGLA chair, started using particleboard for its furniture, opened its flagship store (31,000 square metres) in Stockholm, and started opening stores in other Scandinavian countries.


IKEA started expanding outside Scandinavia, opening in Switzerland in 1973, Germany in 1974, and Australia in 1975, Canada in 1976, Austria in 1977, and the Netherlands in 1979.
It also started designing more furniture.


IKEA expanded dramatically into new markets such as USA, Italy, and France.
Plus, in 1987, IKEA opened its first shop in the UK, choosing Manchester as the location.
More IKEA classics arrived, such as KLIPPAN, LACK and MOMENT.
IKEA began to take the form of today’s modern IKEA.


IKEA launched its website www.IKEA.com



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