1. IKEA now makes about $28 billion every year, which is more than the GDP of many small countries such as Serbia! But despite these colossal profits, IKEA is not resting on their laurels, as they have plans to double their furniture empire and profits by 2020.
2. The furniture and home good brand now operates a mind-boggling 351 stores in 43 countries around the world, from China to Russia, Europe to the USA.
3. But IKEA started out with much more modest roots, founded by Ingvar Kamprad’s in the Swedish village of Agunnaryd in the 1940s.
4. Kamprad was only 17 at the time, and had been peddling small items like pens, stockings, and cheap jewelry door-to-door. After all those miles of walking and doors slammed in his face, he realized there was another way to distribute products, so he started a cottage mail-order business.
5. He named his modest company IKEA, which many people incorrectly assume is a Swedish name. In fact, IKEA is an acronym (that’s why it’s always capitalized).
6. The “IK” are his initials; the “E” is for Elmtaryd, the name of the farm he grew up on, and the “A” stands for his home village of Agunnaryd.
7. More than 60 years later, IKEA now sells an astounding 9,500 different products in their catalogs, stores, and online!
8. With all of those thousands of products for sale, you would figure the logical and easiest way to label and organize them all is with product numbers. Ingvar Kamprad did try that at first, but since he’s dyslexic, he repeatedly confused up the sequences of numbers, leading to non-stop mistakes. So he switched from a number coding system to individual names for each product.
9. The names are mostly Scandinavian words, places, and sometimes-nonsensical creations. While most store patrons around the world don’t ever attempt to pronounce the names, they're an endearing signature of the brand, nonetheless.
10. But it did lead to trouble for IKEA when in 2006 in the newly opened Thailand store, it was discovered that several of the Scandinavian words sounded like sexually explicit phrases in Thai.
11. While most prices at furniture stores go up every year, IKEA embraces its presence as a high-volume, low-cost practical brand. In fact, prices for IKEA products have gone down by 2-3% every year since 2000!
12. Still in charge of the IKEA empire, founder Ingvar Kamprad is now reportedly worth $4.2 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world.
13. But despite his vast riches, the 88-year old Kamprad is notoriously frugal, living in his modest long-time home, bargain shopping at local markets in his village, and flying economy when he travels for business.
14. In fact, when Kamprad won the Businessman of the Year Award, he took the bus to the gala, but was first denied entry because they didn’t recognize him and thought him an average party-crasher arriving via public transport!
15. Just how many people shop at IKEA? Last year, there were 771 million visitors to IKEA stores (twice the population of the U.S.!), 213 million catalogs printed, and 1.9 billion visits to IKEA.com!
16. Out of their 351 stores worldwide, the majority – 262 of them – are in Europe, where IKEA is wildly popular. The largest IKEA store in the world is in Stockholm, Sweden, the capital city of Ingvar Kamprad’s home nation. The mammoth store spans 594,167 square feet, the size of ten NFL football fields put together! But that won’t be the biggest for long, as IKEA is starting to build an entire town in East London, covering 27 acres!
17. With all of those stores and sales, IKEA is one of the world’s largest private employer, giving jobs to 131,000 people around the globe.
18. Year after year, IKEA’s most popular product is their simple and reliable (and pronounceable!) BILLY bookcase. In fact, one BILLY bookcase is sold every ten seconds somewhere in the world!
19. Just how popular is IKEA? In the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 5 people sleep on an IKEA bed.
20. And at least 1 in 10 Europeans were actually conceived on an IKEA bed! I’m not sure how they researched that statistic, but it’s impressive just the same!
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog when we cover 20 more facts about IKEA, including the frustrations of assembling the furniture, company-approved naps in for customers in their China stores, and the famous IKEA meatballs!