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  • After Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad’s passing, the furniture giant enters a new chapter.
  • Håkan Svedman, Ikea’s Swedish Country Manager, talks about Kamprad’s significance for the furniture giant – and where it’s heading next.
  • The culture Kamprad put in place is key.
  • “Somehow, we have managed to transmit our values and ways of working around the world,” Svedman says.

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad’s death at 91 years of age made world headlines. Kamprad – who aged 17 started Ikea on his family farm – would become the embodiment of grit, cunning and distrust for convention as he made the company into a global empire.

In those beginnings lay the seeds of the Ikea culture, and by extension, its approach to customers and employees. “It’s about a way of working, of making decisions, of ambition,” says Håkan Svedman, who oversees Ikea’s Swedish operations.

Svedman, who has worked in Ikea since 1994, is himself a product of a homegrown culture which prefers ambition over prestige, humility over hubris.

After he was appointed Swedish Country Manager in 2012, Svedman was immediately in touch with Kamprad for his advice: “He was always very much about the customer experience, which was his greatness. He never lost touch with the everyday life of his employees and customers,” says Svedman.

“He understood everybody’s equal value,” Svedman said, a trait that would underpin the ‘democratisation’ concept that Ikea made its own.

But what made Kamprad truly stand out as a leader, according to Svedman, was his ability to combine detail with grand vision. “He could simultaneously look far into the future, and at the same time control the details in the core business. That was a unique ability.”

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