Zara Is Back In Family’s Control After Billionaire Founder Taps Daughter As Chair

Zara’s youngest daughter, the billionaire founder of the 37-year-old Marta Ortega Perez, has been appointed chairwoman of the fashion company’s fast-fashion empire.

The billionaire entrepreneur behind Zara has appointed his daughter as chair of the fashion company’s board in a surprising move that puts Zara, the biggest clothing retailer in the world, back under the family’s control.

Marta Ortega Perez, 37, is set to assume the role in April, as per an announcement made on Tuesday by the parent company, Inditex. She has worked for Inditex for more than 15 years — beginning as a sales assistant in London before advancing to more significant roles in women’s merchandise and branding and other departments. However, she hasn’t been given a formal title and has not been a member or on the boards. She will take over from long-time employee Pablo Isla, who has been employed at Inditex for over two decades. She was first chief executive officer, then most lately as the executive chairman. Inditex shares fell by 6percent following the announcement that wiped over $3 billion of Amancio Ortega’s fortune, the founder’s.

“I have lived and breathed this organization since my childhood,” stated Perez in an announcement. “I have always said that I would dedicate my life to building upon my parents’ legacy.”

Amancio Ortega, a reclusive billionaire who has no contact with journalists, has amassed a vast global real estate portfolio after making millions in clothing.

The move puts the chain back under the family’s control after more than ten years of being managed by outsiders. The founder Amancio Ortega, 85years old, was relieved of his day-to-day management duties after quitting as chair in 2011. However, he continues to be the company’s controlling shareholder, with 60% of the business, making him one of the most wealthy people in the world with a fortune of $73 billion.

The company’s selection process was a bit complicated. Ortega did not select two other children he shared with the first woman he married, but neither had any involvement in the business. His daughter Sandra Ortega Mera, 53, is a significant shareholder who has inherited the company’s 4.5 percent stake following her mother’s death. She was also the co-founder of the company, Rosalia Mera, who died abruptly in 2013. The company’s most successful person to be a shareholder in Spain with an estimated total net amount in the range of $6.9 billion. Mera is a certified psychologist who lives in that same coast Spanish city of La Coruna, where she grew as a child and where the business is headquartered. She lives there with her husband and their three children. Ortega also has an infant son.

Ortega founded the company in 1975 along with his then-wife Mera, who had stitched some of their first garments with a needle at home. The couple divorced in the year 1975. Ortega became an innovator in the fast fashion industry. He was able to keep the inventory levels low and prices down by creating styles faster than other brands. At present, Ortega operates more than 6,600 shops and $16.7 billion of annual revenue.

Inditex has been working hard to overcome the pandemic. Sales were affected through temporary closures of stores and a decrease in the amount of clothing purchased. In the past year, the company eliminated more than $300 million of not sold inventory. Its business model of selling mountains of disposable, cheap clothing is increasingly coming into question in an industry that deals with sustainability and its effects on the environment.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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