Spanish shirt-seller is world’s 3rd-richest man
MADRID (AFP) – The recession ravaging Spain’s economy has not held back Amancio Ortega, a railwayman’s son from Galicia, who has just leaped to third place in Forbes magazine’s listing of the richest people in the world.
From his workshop in the rugged northwestern region of Galicia, Ortega has conquered the world with his Inditex retail empire and its flagship Zara brand.Ortega, 76, has wealth now estimated at $57 billion (44 billion euros), rocketing from $37.5 billion a year ago, according to Forbes. Only the Mexican magnate Carlos Slim and US tech titan Bill Gates rank above him.
A file picture taken on February 4, 2004 shows the founder of Spain’s Inditex, the world’s largest fashion retailer and owner of the Zara brand, Amancio Ortega, walking in Arteixo, near Coruna, northwestern Spain. A billionaire thanks to his Inditex retail empire and its flagship Zara brand, on March 4 he leaped from fifth to third place in Forbes magazine’s listing of the richest people in the world. Ortega’s wealth is now estimated at $57 billion (44 billion euros), rocketing from $37.5 billion a year ago
Ortega left school at 13 to work as a salesman in a shirt store in the city of La Coruna. Four years later, he set up his own business, initially handling wholesale transactions.He opened his first Zara boutique in 1975, in La Coruna. More branches followed, and he expanded into Portugal in 1988, the United States in 1989 and France in 1990. Now almost 40 years later, Zara has become the emblem of his low-cost fashion empire.
Inditex is the largest fashion retailer in the world. Aside from Zara, its brands include the youth-oriented label Bershka and the upmarket brand Massimo Dutti.
The group has ridden out the economic crisis and in December it reported that net profit in the period from January to October had surged by an annualised 27 per cent to 1.655 billion euros.