Fashion heiress lands top job at Zara
Spanish patriarch makes way for a new generation
THE daughter of the founder of Zara owner Inditex has been handed control of the company.
Marta Ortega Perez takes over as chairman in April at the world’s largest fashion group, which has 6,654 shops and 162,450 staff.
The 37-year-old is the only child of Inditex founder Amancio Ortega and his second wife Flora Perez and has worked for the £75bn company for the past 15 years.
Having started out aged 22 as a sales associate at the Zara store on King’s Road in London, Ortega Perez has been credited with strengthening its brand and clothes offering.
‘I have lived and breathed this company since my childhood, and I have learned from all the great professionals I have worked with over the last 15 years,’ she said.
‘I have always said that I would dedicate my life to building upon my parents’ legacy, looking to the future but learning from the past and serving the company, our shareholders and our customers where I’m most needed. I’m deeply honoured by the trust been placed in me, and enormously excited about the future.’
Her promotion was part of a wider shake-up that unnerved investors and sent shares down 6pc in Madrid. She will replace Pablo Isla, who served as deputy chairman and chief executive between 2005 and 2011 before becoming executive chairman and was the first person outside the Ortega family to lead the business.
‘We believe the time has come to turn a new page,’ said Isla, 57.
The shake-up also saw general counsel and board secretary Oscar Garcia Maceiras promoted to chief executive. The 46-year-old will take over from Carlos Crespo, who has been in post since July 2019 and will become chief operating officer.
Inditex is majority-owned by Amancio Ortega, Spain’s richest man, who has a 59.3pc stake worth £44.5bn.
Now 85, he founded Zara with his ex-wife Rosalia in 1975 in Spain’s north-western region of Galicia, where it is still based.
It has grown into an empire with annual sales worth £17.5bn across eight brands including Massimo Dutti, Pull&Bear and Stradivarius. In the UK, it has more than 100 shops including 66 Zara stores.
Ortega Perez, a keen equestrian who has a degree in business management and speaks five languages, takes just weeks after it announced bumper quarterly results – storming ahead of its arch-rival H&M.
Profits soared to £726m in the three months to July as online sales rose and shops remained open in key markets. It may just £940m across the whole of last year as Covid took its toll.
Ortega Perez married fellow Inditex employee Carlos Torretta – son of fashion designer Roberto Torretta – in 2018.
Guests at the star-studded party at the Royal Yacht Club in La Coruna included Bruce Springsteen’s daughter Jessica and Spanish Master Chef’s Samantha Vallejo-Nagera.
Ortega Perez has a son with her previous husband, Olympic showjumper Sergio Alvarez Moya, who she married in 2012.
Inditex shares fell in Madrid are up nearly 8pc this year.
Analyst Andrew Busby of Retail Reflections said: ‘I think it is a sound succession move and don’t expect any hiccups or bumps as a result. She is a safe pair of hands and I think the brand will continue evolving, growing and being successful.
‘It is one of the few success stories we have on the High Street at the moment in terms of its offer, the way it manages stock and inventory. It’s probably the envy of many of its competitors. It is just a great seamless handover.’
But analysts at Spanish investment firm Alantra said: ‘We would have expected a more orderly and smoother transition, with Isla supervising in a non-executive role.’
And experts at Kepler warned that Ortega Perez and Maceiras ‘have a lot to prove when it comes to their ability to run this big monster in the middle of the Covid crisis’.