13 Facts About IKEA That Will Blow Your Mind
What began in 1943 as a mail-order sales business in a tiny Swedish town has become the world's largest furniture company. IKEA sells a bewildering $28 billion in furniture each year, operating 351 stores in 43 countries. We've all visited enough times—towering shopping cart in tow—to think we get the gist. The flat-packed furniture. The crazy affordable prices. The meatballs. But the truth is, there is so much more to learn about this international megastore. Read on below: You'll be surprised.
IKEA’s crazy (and iconic) product names (think: MALM, EXPEDIT) actually have a logic to them, and they were chosen to serve Kamprad’s dyslexia. In his original furniture business, the founder had trouble remembering the codes for each product, which were identified by a series of numbers, so he created a naming system. For example, garden furniture is named after Swedish islands, chairs and desks have men’s names, and large pieces of furniture are named for Swedish places.
IKEA isn’t a name, but an acronym. It stands for Ingvar Kamprad (the founder’s name), Elmtaryd (the farm where Kamprad was raised), and Agunnaryd (the Swedish town where Kamprad grew up).
This year, 212 million copies of the IKEA catalog were printed in 29 languages and 62 editions. For comparison, that’s more than double the average world sales of the Bible each year.
The IKEA range currently contains a bewildering 9,500 products.
The brand’s total turnover from selling food in its restaurant, bistro, Swedish food market, and staff restaurants in 2013 was almost $1.8 billion. That’s a lot of meatballs.
The company owns and operates 137 wind turbines around the world.
IKEA is a non-profit. Ingka Holding, a private, Dutch-registered company, is the parent for all IKEA companies (including 207 of the 235+ stores worldwide). Ingka Holding belongs to Stichting Ingka Foundation, a Dutch-registered, tax-exempt, non-profit-making legal entity. To put it simply, its complicated corporate structure allows the brand to make non-taxable profit and for Kamprad to maintain tight control over its operations. The retailer, which sells $28 billion in furniture per year, pays a slender tax rate of just 3.5 percent.
Head to Fast Company to watch a whiteboard video tutorial explaining how it all works.
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