ZARA boss Amancio Ortega is fashion’s richest man, according to Forbes’ 2013 Billionaires List. The Spanish businessman is worth $57 billion (£37.5 billion), an increase of $19.5 billion (£12.8 billion) in one year.
“Reclusive”, “secretive” and “reserved” are words usually used to describe the stocky 76-year-old from Spain, who leapfrogged US investor Warren Buffett to become the third-richest person in the world on Forbes’ 2013 annual ranking of billionaires. Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim leads the list ($US73 billion), followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($US67 billion).
The “fast fashion” tycoon’s estimated net worth of $US57 billion is built on a formula of endless renewal, with dresses and blouses displayed in thousands of Zara stores worldwide for only a few days before they are taken off the rails and replaced with an even newer line of must-have garments.
Customers know they have to buy the clothes quickly if they want them because they will not be available for long. The now-global strategy also encourages shoppers to return frequently to see new ranges and trends.
The aggressively managed Inditex has more than 6000 stores in some 90 countries and includes such brands as Ortega’s flagship Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti and others. It is the world’s biggest fashion retailer ahead of Gap and Hennes & Mauritz, making 840 million garments a year.
Be it Zara Store or Zara Home, every window dressing and table layout is meticulously trialled and photographed, so that stores can replicate the most eye-catching displays from Madrid to Tokyo, from London to Sao Paulo, an example of the tight control exercised by the company.
Beyond retail, Ortega has investments in two main funds: Pontegadea Inversiones, in which he is the majority owner with 97.2 per cent and his daughter Marta has 2.8 per cent; and Pontegadea Inmobiliaria.