“The restaurant group was led by Leif B Bengtsson, a newly appointed manager at IKEA,” says Mats. “He had no experience of the restaurant industry, but had worked in insurance and wealth management for pop group ABBA, among others. But Leif and his team took on the assignment, travelled around to the various stores, and soon reported that quality at the IKEA restaurants had become very poor, especially in Sweden and Scandinavia.”
The restaurant group suggested developing a new, coherent restaurant concept, and this led to change. The renewal process began in 1984 under the management of Sören Hullberg, former store manager in Aubonne, Switzerland. At the time Ingvar Kamprad himself was living and working in Aubonne, so he could follow the evolution of the new restaurant concept closely. The work group included the well-known Swedish chef Severin Sjöstedt, who later developed the meatball recipe – the first proprietary recipe to be secured by IKEA. It was tested over a couple of years by many people, including Ingvar Kamprad himself. The secret recipe is still used today, and has been a huge success for IKEA which has become famous for its Swedish meatballs. “Apart from the blue and yellow colours on the stores and all the IKEA product names being Swedish, I think the food is the strongest part of our Swedish profile,” says Mats Agmén assuredly.