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The Swedish founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at the age of 91, the firm has announced, paying tribute to him as "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century."

A statement said that he peacefully passed away following a short illness at his home in Småland, Sweden, on 27 January. He was surrounded by his loved ones at the time.

"We are deeply saddened by Ingvar's passing," said Torbjörn Lööf CEO and president of IKEA Group.

"We will remember his dedication and commitment to always side with the many people. To never give up, always try to become better and lead by example."

Kamprad was born in 1926 in southern Sweden. At the early age of 17 he founded IKEA - the furniture business that became a lifelong commitment, the company said.

Since 1988 Kamprad no longer held an operational role but continued in the capacity of senior advisor.

In a brief statment, Ikea wrote: "Ingvar Kamprad was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind - hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye.

"He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done. Ingvar Kamprad will be missed and fondly remembered."

At the same time, heartfelt tributes poured in from company executives.

Jesper Brodin, CEO and president of the IKEA Group said: "We are mourning the loss of our founder and dear friend Ingvar. His legacy will be admired for many years to come and his vision – to create a better everyday life for the many people – will continue to guide and inspire us."

Lars Thorsén, CEO of parent company Ikano Group, added: "Ingvar's extensive knowledge and engagement over the years have been a huge source of inspiration.

"His heritage is always with us and we will continue to constantly search for new and better ways to find solutions that no one else has thought of and to do great things for the many people, together."