Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the Ikea Foundation Switzerland, was born in 1926 on the Elmtaryd farm near Agunnaryd in Småland in southern Sweden.
Following a carpentry apprenticeship, he founded the IKEA company in 1943, at the age of just 17. He initially sold various consumables such as matches, ballpoint pens, tablecloths and nylon tights. In 1947, he expanded to add furniture to his range, which he sold predominantly to farmers in the province of Småland by mail-order for the purposes of keeping costs low. He concentrated fully on mail-order furniture from 1952.
He opened the first IKEA furniture store in 1958 in Älmhult and the first furniture store abroad in 1963 in Oslo. The first furniture store outside of Scandinavia was opened in 1973 in Spreitenbach (Switzerland). Today there are more than 300 furniture stores in 26 countries across the world (as at August 2014).