Do you know how IKEA got its name?

Flat-pack, do-it-yourself, no tools required!

Everyone in Canada and the United States knows IKEA, the Swedish retail store that specializes in “buy it, bring it home, build it yourself” furniture. Every college kid and newlywed has IKEA furniture, kitchenware and linens in their homes, right? So, how did IKEA begin. Whose idea was this great big incredible store?

IKEA USA Store Map

IKEA USA Store Map

IKEA USA’S 48 store locations

IKEA Canada Store Map

IKEA Canada Store Map

IKEA Canada’s 12 store locations  

IKEA: in the beginning

Back in the 1920’s, there was a five-year-old boy by the name of Ingvar Kamprad who bought matches in bulk and sold them to his neighbours at a profit. By the time he was seven, he decided that by riding his bike he could reach a broader market. In not time, Ingvar was selling flower seeds, greeting cards, Christmas tree decorations, pencils and ball-point pens. What a little entrepreneur was he!

A born entrepreneur: 1940’s-1950’s

At the age of 17, using money that his father had given him as a reward for succeeding in his studies, Ingmar establish IKEA. The store sold pens, picture frams, watches, jewellery, wallets and nylong stockings, all at reduced prices.

What’s in a name?

Ingmar Kamprad dreamed up the name of IKEA by using his initials, I.K., along with the first letters of the farm and village where he grew up (E: Emtaryd; A: Agunnaryd).

Furniture is introduced

In 1948, Ingvar introduced furniture produced by local manufacturers into his product. By 1951, his product line had grown substantially and he published the first IKEA catalogue.

Furniture showroom opens in Älmhult, Sweden
The year 1953 saw the opening of the first IKEA showroom in Älmhult, Sweden.For the first time customers can see and touch IKEA home furnishings before ordering them.
Designing furniture for flat packs and self-assembly
One day, in 1956, an IKEA co-worker removed the legs of the LÖVET table so that it would fit into his car and not be damaged on the way home. And, that, is  how the flat packs and self-assembly became part of the concept!

The first IKEA store opens in Sweden

The first IKEA store opened in 1958 in Älmhult, with 6,700 square metres of home furnishings!

Over the following two decades, IKEA expanded into Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands. During those decades, IKEA introduced its first in-store restaurant, the popular Poäng chair and the versatile Billy bookcases.
Ingvar Kamprad retires
In the 1980’s IKEA expanded into the U.S., France, the U.K. and Italy. In 1987, Ingvar  Kamprad retired and became an advisor to the parent company INGKA Holding B.V.  He handed over the reins to Anders Moberg, who took on the responsibilities of President and CEO of the IKEA Group.
In the 1990’s
This decade saw the further expansion of IKEA into Hungary, the Czech Republic, Spain, China and Poland.
In 1997, IKEA took its place on the web, and on-line shopping became another option for its customers. That year, they also introduced a special range of products just for kids, making IKEA a true family store. And, every IKEA location has a children’s play area, children’s room settings, baby areas and special kids’ meals in the restaurant.
The new millenium
In the first decade of the new millenium–2000-2010–IKEA stores were opened in Russia, India, Portugal, Japan and Thailand.
During that decade, the IKEA Group, in co-operation with UNICEF, began a program in northern India to address the root causes of child labour and covering initiatives such as health and nutrition, education and empowering women.
Have you had a Swedish meatball lately? Have one the next time you’re in IKEA!
Gloria Sauve
Communications and Marketing

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