Quotations from IKEA Founder Ingvar Kamprad

Get Inspiring Leadership Sentiments from a Famous Retailing Industry CEO

Sandra Baqirjazid /Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications of Sweden/Wikimedia Commons/ [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

IKEA is well known around the world for its distinct furniture and home products, and the company's founder Ingvar Kamprad is well known for his distinct ideas about retailing and the management of his business. While most retail CEO's seem to be obsessed with proving that their own retail brand and retail chain is the best in the world, Kamprad seems to reject the idea of "best" for IKEA, focusing instead on the constant quest for continuous improvement and best practices instead.

What follows are quotes from Kamprad that provide insight into his ideas about retailing and the management of his company's retail operations and employees.

Thoughts on Retail Management Philosophies

  • "It was our duty to expand. Those who cannot or will not join us are to be pitied. What we want to do, we can do and will do, together. A glorious future!
  • Waste of resources is a mortal sin at IKEA.
  • To do business with a clear conscience is an attitude that pays. We have to find more time for ourselves and to regain respect for the environment in which we live.
  • IKEA is not completely perfect. It irritates me to death to hear it said that IKEA is the best company in the world. We are going the right way to becoming it, for sure, but we are not there yet.
  • Simplicity and common sense should characterize planning and strategic direction.
  • We discuss too much, for example. And, in doing so, we lose touch with reality. We have fantastic people who work for us, but even managers are incapable of making even the smallest decisions. It’s the directors who are Ikea’s big problem.
  • I'm not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don't have time for dying.
  • The temples of design in places like Milan or God knows where overflow with beautiful, original furniture that costs extortionate amounts of money. The vast majority of people don’t have six-figure amounts in the bank and don’t live in enormous apartments…it is for just such people that I created Ikea. For everybody who wants a comfortable house in which to live well. A need that crosses all countries, races, and religions.
  • To design a desk which may cost $1,000 is easy for a furniture designer, but to design a functional and good desk which shall cost $50 can only be done by the very best.
  • What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us.
  • The objective must be to encompass the total home environment; that is, to offer furnishings and fittings for every part of the home whether indoors or outdoors. It must reflect our way of thinking by being as simple and straightforward as we are ourselves. It must be durable and easy to live with. It must reflect an easier, more natural and unconstrained way of life.
  • The IKEA spirit is a strong and living reality. Simplicity in our behavior gives us strength. Simplicity and humbleness characterize us in our relations with each other, with our suppliers, and with our customers.
  • If there is such a thing as good leadership, it is to give a good example. I have to do so for all the Ikea employees.
  • How the hell can I ask people who work for me to travel cheaply if I am traveling in luxury? It’s a question of good leadership.
  • I could regularly travel first class, but having money in abundance doesn’t seem like a good reason to waste it. Why should I choose first class? To be offered a glass of champagne from the air hostess? If it helped me arrive at my destination more quickly, then maybe.
  • I could have an office all to myself, but since my collaborators don’t have one, then I too am content to have a desk in the shared room.
  • If you want to maximize results, it’s not enough to simply preach – you have to set a good example. I am very proud to follow the rules of our company.
  • Simple routines have a greater impact. It is not just to cut costs that we avoid luxury hotels. We do not need fancy cars, posh titles, tailor-made uniforms, or other status symbols. We rely on our own strength and our own will!
  • Making mistakes is the privilege of the active. It is always the mediocre people who are negative, who spend their time proving that they were not wrong."

More Philosophy and Inspiration from Retail Founder Quotes