You’d be forgiven for thinking the man who revolutionised interior design, making himself the fifth wealthiest businessman in the world in the process, lived a life of unimaginable luxury and splendour.
Yet Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of global juggernaut IKEA, lives in an unassuming bungalow, favours the meatballs sold by his stores and only ever flies economy class, even though he could own a private jet without it even denting his personal fortune.
Mr Kamprad, who turns 87 tomorrow, even shops in the local market towards the end of the day in order to scoop up bargains, reports the Daily Express.
It is reported that he was once turned away from a swish business awards ceremony because he had just hopped off the bus and takes home the packets of salt and pepper from cafes.
Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad and late wife Margaretha at a local shop in Sweden. The billionaire is notoriously careful with money
It is a remarkable existence for the man behind a company that recorded an annual net profit of £3.2billion and achieved sales of £27.6billion throughout 44 countries.
IKEA’s domination of the home-furnishing market is phenomenal. It is the planet’s third largest consumer of wood and there are more IKEA catalogues printed per year (208 million at the last count) than there are bibles.
In the UK, where the company first set up shop in 1987, it was voted the country’s most popular shop in a survey, and the average size of its stores is 300,000 square feet – the equivalent of 42 football pitches.
Modest: The home of IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad, in Switzerland
Success: Kamprad’s company is estimated to be the source of a tenth of all beds in Europe
Such is its success, it is said that one in 10 Europeans is now conceived on an Ikea bed.
But this frugality, while genuine, is argued by some to be a facet of his intensely canny ability to manage his own image and that of the company, as evidenced by his expert handling of revelations that he was a member of the pro-fascist New Sweden Movement in 1942.
He doubled his company’s charitable donations to nearly £100million and begged employees to forgive him.
A former executive assistant, Johan Stenebo wrote in a book on Mr Kaprad: ‘He wanted to appear a man of the people, one of us.’
Kamprad photographed at the company’s head office in Almhult, Sweden. At one point he was reportedly the richest man in the world
Indeed, the self-confessed recovering alcoholic owns a large country estate in Sweden and a vineyard in Provence on top of the Swiss bungalow. He also wore bespoke suits and drove a Porsche in the 1960s.
Mr Stenebo added: ‘Ingvar casts himself as the underdog, presenting himself to the world as a somewhat dim, alcoholic dyslexic. He tells people he has many shortcomings, that he is slightly stupid.
‘Yet he remains incredibly sharp and knowledgeable down to the smallest detail.
‘He will tell you in seconds how much Russian pine sawn on the spot, glued and then refined in Poland would cost in a Swedish store.
Ingvar Kamprad as a young boy (left). He would go on to become one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs