How did he make his billions? The young Kamprad peddled matches, pens and Christmas cards to neighbours by bike. Turning to furniture, he opened his first Ikea store in 1958. The flatpack idea arose by accident when an employee took the legs off a table to get it into a customer's car. Ikea now employs 10,000, filling the homes of the cost-conscious middle-class from Gateshead to Guangzhou. Store-openings have been known to spark riots.
The secret of his success? Principles. Kamprad flies economy, takes the bus and eats cheaply. His home is all Ikea gear, save for a chair he inherited from his mother 30 years ago. Ikea is infused with his thrift: employees become catalogue models, and bosses share hotel rooms. Yet principles have landed Kamprad in hot water. He calls his association with the 'new Swedish' wartime pro-Nazi party 'the greatest mistake of my life'.