Iconic IKEA founder now CEO, chairman, despite never being on the board

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The history of this place lies in the lost soul of a woman who grew up and shopped here, before she died: Lotta Hennings, the little-known founder of what became the IKEA company. For decades, the housewares retailer founded in 1937 was a mostly Swedish enterprise, with a company founder living, rising and roaring among the weird and wonderful products we may now recognize as IKEA.

Until 2006, Lotta Hennings — who would have been 82 on Monday — owned a pair of voting shares that made her one of IKEA’s largest shareholders. She now owns even more shares, having traded the voting ones for equivalent non-voting shares. As a result, she now has about 47 percent of IKEA’s voting stock.

In 2016, the Times’ Mackenzie Weinger reported that she had never had a seat on the company’s board. But with today’s announcement, she is officially a co-CEO and will, with the company’s chairman Thomas Schiller, represent IKEA at board meetings.

Hennings’ donation of her IKEA shares to charity continues, and the IKEA Foundation will receive the irrevocable grant of shares, to be managed by the Swedish Foundation Fund, according to a statement from the company.

“Today, we can now say goodbye to this inheritance,” wrote Sir Peter Blake, chairman of the foundation board.

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