Lifetime of Achievement: Jesper Brodin

Jesper Brodin Is CEO of Ingka Group, Ikea’s Holding Company, and Explains How the Company Was Behaving Sustainably ‘Before People Could Spell the Word’

Jesper Brodin is the CEO of Ingka Group. Ingka is named after Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish billionaire best known for founding IKEA, the multinational retail company specialising in furniture. Ingka is a holding company based in the Netherlands, and controls 367 stores of IKEA’s 464 stores. 

Brodin is carrying on a rich history of senior leadership at the company, which in July 2023 celebrated its 80th anniversary, having been founded in a small Swedish town in 1943. The brand now attracts around 700 million annual customer visits. 

Throughout its history, Ikea has prided itself on providing high-quality furniture at affordable prices, and as a result, its wide variety of products can be found in tens of millions of homes across the world. 

In his 28-year career with the company, Brodin has been central to ensuring IKEA meets these corporate goals.

Brodin was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, and holds a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. 

He joined IKEA in 1995, as the company's Purchase Manager in Pakistan. His next role was in 1997, as Range & Supply Manager in Southeast Asia. Two years later Brodin assumed the role of assistant to Ingvar Kamprad and Anders Dahlvig, CEO of IKEA Group at the time.

In 2008, he moved to China to become Regional Purchase Manager before three years later becoming Supply Chain Manager of IKEA in Sweden. 

He went on to become CEO of IKEA Range & Supply, and was responsible for the development of the product range and supply chain of the IKEA Brand. He succeeded Peter Agnefjäll as CEO of Ingka Group in September 2017.

It has been a tumultuous time for Brodin.

“Nobody briefed me about pandemics, economic chaos, supply chain disruption and geopolitical tensions and wars,” Brodin told Time magazine. “It’s been an incredibly humbling and very stressful period. 

Brodin is known for his belief in values-based leadership and for his emphasis on togetherness.

“The power is where the people are,” he says. “Believe in yourself and your strengths, but don’t forget to rely on other people’s strengths, too –- because we’re truly stronger together.” 

Brodin’s vision for Ingka Group is one of sustainable development. He is a member of the World Economic Forum, and advocates for wider climate commitments across the global retail sector.

IKEA’s ambition in the years leading up to 2030 is to inspire and enable more than a billion 

The company’s sustainability targets include:

  • Offering 50% plant-based meals in its restaurants by 2025
  • Only sourcing renewable or recycled materials by 2030.
  • Phasing out plastic packaging by 2028
  • Becoming ‘climate positive’ by FY30, by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions more than the company’s supply chain chain emits, without relying on carbon offsetting. 

These are goals that Brodin embraces fully, telling Time magazine that the company is also being more sustainable by changing the way its furniture is built.

“We are now replacing fittings with smart click-solutions, instead of screws, which has an immense impact from a sustainability point of view, because we are using fewer materials.”

Asked how he squares IKEA’s reputation for low prices and disposability with sustainability, Brodin says that, from the outset of his time with IKEA, employees “were taught that wasting resources was a sin”. 

He adds: “So if you look at our tradition and history, long before anybody could spell sustainability, it was about reducing air in the packages, filling up the containers, making a flatpack.

“The only way IKEA can be successful in the future is to be in a hurry to get sustainable. We need to get smarter on how we use energy and materials across the whole value chain. And that’s the only way we will be able to be affordable.”

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