IKEA names Jarnheimer, board member and founders' ally, as chairman

STOCKHOLM Fri May 2, 2014 9:57am EDT

STOCKHOLM May 2 (Reuters) - IKEA Group announced a new chairman on Friday, naming Lars-Johan Jarnheimer - board member and former boss of Swedish telecoms firm Tele2 - in a move that maintains the founding family's influence over the World No. 1 furniture maker.

Jarnheimer, 54, has close ties with IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad's three sons, who all hold high level positions in IKEA's complex ownership structure.

He will take over in January next year from 69-year-old Goran Grosskopf who has held the reins at INGKA Holding BV - which controls the IKEA Group - since 2007, and was also a close associate of Kamprad.

"It won't mean any change in IKEA's direction or strategy," Jarnheimer told Reuters. "But at the same time, a company can't just stand still when customers change their behaviour."

IKEA, whose warehouse-like stores sell everything from highchairs to fitted kitchens, aims to nearly double revenues to 50 billion euros ($68.37 billion) by 2020 by expanding online - answering critics who say it has been slow to do so - and building stores in new markets such as India.

The Swedish firm posted a record net profit of 3.3 billion euros in 2012/13 on revenues of 27.9 billion euros in the 2013 financial year.

IKEA's founder and head strategist Kamprad began to step back from the day-to-day running of IKEA in the late 1980s. None of his three sons has yet emerged as a clear successor to their father.

IKEA said Kamprad, who returned to Sweden from decades in tax exile in Switzerland earlier this year, will remain a senior advisor to the board.

Grosskopf could not be reached for a comment.

Jarnheimer has held a number of high-level posts within a group of companies controlled by Swedish investment firm Kinnevik.

He is currently a board member of airline group SAS , search and directory firm Eniro and chairman of E-commerce group CDON Group, and was CEO of Swedish telecoms operator Tele2 for ten years through 2008.

Grosskopf, a tax expert, will move on to other roles in IKEA.

He will be chairman of the Stichting INGKA Foundation - owner of the IKEA Group - and two other foundations: Stichting IKEA Foundation, which handles IKEA's charitable activities and the Stichting IMAS Foundation, which manages financial assets on behalf of the Stichting INGKA Foundation.

Founded in 1943 in a shed by Kamprad, IKEA's more than 300 stores in 26 countries attracted about 680 million shoppers during the past year. (Additional reporting by Simon Johnson and Olof Swahnberg; Editing by Sophie Walker)

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