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As one of the most successful global brands, IKEA specialises in stylish, quality furniture at affordable prices. It has become synonymous with easy-to-assemble, flat-pack furniture. IKEA operates in 40 countries and has more than 300 locations worldwide.

The man behind IKEA

IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad, who was born in Sweden in 1926. The brand’s name comes from his initials, and the places where he grew up.

Ingvar showed entrepreneurial talent from an early age. At just five years old he began selling matches for a profit. At 17, Ingvar’s father gave him some money, which he used to start a business – and so IKEA was born in 1943.

Ingvar continued to run IKEA until 2013, at which point his son took the helm. However, Ingvar still plays an active role in the business, visiting stores around the world.

Early days

In the beginning, IKEA sold everyday items like pens, jewellery, wallets and picture frames, transporting products by milk vans.

As popularity grew, IKEA diversified to sell furniture which was advertised in its first catalogue, produced in 1951. A couple of years later, customers could see these products for real in the first IKEA showroom.

Birth of flat-pack furniture

It wasn’t a conscious decision for IKEA to start producing its own furniture in 1956. It more arose from the fact that suppliers started boycotting the brand. Practical, flat-pack and self-assembly products at low prices became core features of the brand, which still holds true today.

The first IKEA home furnishings store opened its doors to the public in Sweden, in 1958.

 Global expansion

IKEA launched new stores in other Scandinavian countries in the 1960s, branching into Europe in the 1970s. It ventured to the Far East in 1974, opening its first store in Japan, followed by a store in Australia a year later. The USA welcomed its first IKEA store in 1985, while Manchester was the first location for a UK store in 1987.

By 1991, IKEA employed more than 50,000 staff and had a presence in 29 countries, with 158 stores.

In 2010, the Swedish brand opened its first Latin American store in the Dominican Republic.

Despite being Swedish, IKEA’s current headquarters are in The Netherlands. The country that boasts the most IKEA stores to date is Germany, with 50 retail outlets, whilst the largest single store measuring 59,000 square feet resides in South Korea.

Notable products

Over the years, IKEA has designed some standout products.

The Poang chair is one of IKEA’s most iconic designs, offering affordability, comfort and enduring appeal. The Billy bookcase is also one of IKEA’s most popular products – it’s claimed that one is sold every 10 seconds. Other favourites include the Malm storage bed and Kallax shelving.

If you’re planning a big trip to IKEA to add some stylish furniture to your home, don’t fret about trying to fit it all in your car. Hire a van from H&H Van Hire, and you can relax knowing that you’ve got ample space to transport your purchases home.

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