Amancio Ortega Gaona Biography

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    In this success story, we are going to share Amancio Ortega Gaona biography, the founder of the

    Inditex Group, which includes prt--porter fashion chains Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull &

    Bear, and Stradivarius. The extraordinary

    financial results of the clothing chains

    mentioned led to Forbes ranking Amancio

    Ortega to be the richest person in the world as

    to October 2015, ahead of Bill Gates, the total

    net worth of American billionaire being USD

    $78.6 billion. Born into poverty, Ortega

    Gaona has accumulated enormous wealth,

    modesty, and openness remaining his main

    personality traits. Known for having been

    publicists mystery for decades, Amancio Ortega is a true media nightmare, as neither the

    Spains richest man nor any of his relatives have ever given public interviews.

    Early Life

    Born on March 28, 1936 (the beginning of the Civil War in Spain) in Busdongo de Arbas, a

    small village with less than 100 citizens located in the northern Spanish region Len, Amancio

    Ortega Gaona was the youngest of four other children. Being extremely poor, the Ortega family

    soon moved to La Corua surviving due to Amancio fathers job at the local railway station.

    They lived in a beggarly house at the railway workers quarters. His mother employed as a

    housemaid, Amancio heard her pleading for credit at local stores, unable to afford essential

    items, which made him leave school and start working at the age of 14. Amancio Ortegas first

    job was a shop assistant at a local company, called Gala, where he learned to make clothes by

    hands. Frozen in time, Gala, a conventional shirts maker, is still active and open on one of La

    Coruas downtown corners. Selling traditional shirts, caps and cardigans, Jos Martnez, who

    inherited the Gala business from his father, has recently reported that the visitors never buy, they

    simply ask about his youth friend, Amancio.

    Working hard at his teens, Amancio Ortega enjoyed riding his bicycle around the town,

    whenever he had free time. His brilliant business idea could have come during one of such rides

    Ortega realized that to earn good money, one should give customers what they want. At the age

    of 16, Amancio Ortega was pondering on how to figure out potential client desires and, what is

    even more important, meet that demand. In the 1950s, Spanish Galicia region was a perfect spot

    for his business plan: poor job alternatives in combination with numerous single women who

    could sew pretty good. Ortega started to organize women into sewing cooperatives. The product

    line included: lingerie, babywear, and nightgowns. Ex-employees of the sewing cooperatives ran

    by Ortega shared with media how thrilled the Galicia ladies were to get that job with great

    conditions, and how excited they were to see their boss being very close to the workers.

    Amancio Ortega Gaona founded his first company in 1963,

    having gained ten years of managing sewing cooperatives

    experience. He called it Confecciones GOA,' his initials if

    to read backward. The founder of the bathing robes

    business organized GOA into a family company, Amancio

    running the fashion, Antonio (his brother) heading the

    commercial issues, Josefa (his sister) bookkeeping the

    business matters, and Rosalia Mera (whom he would later

    marry) performing as his business partner.

  • Known to Be an Incognito The private life of Amancio Ortega is terra incognita. Known to be publicity discreet, Amancio

    Ortega spends millions of dollars to protect the privacy of his life. That is the reason of no one

    being aware of Ortegas first marriage date. However, known to be his first business partner, it

    was Rosalia Mera, who became Ortegas first wife. The married couple never appeared together

    in public; nor did they let their two children be pictured by intrusive paparazzi. Their clothing

    business was the only affair they were busy with. Together with Rosalina Mera, Amancio Ortega

    integrated GOA into Inditex, the holding group of a number of popular brands. Founded in 1985

    and floated onto the stock exchange in 2001, Inditex group, a Spanish clothing seller, owns Zara,

    Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti, and Bershka brands.

    However, in 1986 Amancio Ortega divorced Rosalina Mera (28 January 1944 15 August

    2013). His second wife, Flora Prez

    Marcote, is 18 years younger than Amancio.

    Used to be one of the workers of Ortegas

    company, currently she holds a board

    position at Inditex. Being in her early 30s,

    Marta, Ortegas daughter from Flora Prez, is

    considered to be his future successor. Marta

    is very close to her farther; similar to

    Ortegas experience, she has undergone her

    professional training at Inditex, starting from

    the lowest level of a store employee. Along

    with the career similarities, Amancio Ortega

    and Marta share horse riding hobby, the

    loving farther purchased an equestrian center

    in Galicia, Spain.

    It is a known fact that the overall amount of

    pictures with Amancio Ortega, who has been

    avoiding the limelight during his whole life,

    cannot amount even 200 ones. Zara official

    news corporation has presented most of them,

    and the other photographs of Amancio

    Ortega Gaona, as well as cheeseparing pieces

    of information, have been developed either

    by Covadonga O'Shea or by Xabier R. Blanco. The latest being a local Spanish journalist who

    has been tracking Amancio Ortegas career; OShea is Ortegas lifelong friend, she runs a

    fashion school at the University of Navarra, Madrid. Xabier Blanco

    and Jess Salgado have co-authored Ortegas non-official

    biography, the book called Amancio Ortega: From Zero to Zara

    (2004). However, Covadonga OShea has been granted the right to

    develop Ortegas official biography. On October 21, 2008, the book

    was published in the Spanish language under the title As es

    Amancio Ortega, el hombre que cre Zara. In March 2012, the book

    was published in English language under the title The Man from

    Zara: The Story of the Genius Behind the Inditex Group.


    In 30 years since Inditex was founded, Amancio Ortega has become

    fast fashion mogul. According to Forbes, Amancio Ortegas total net

    worth is estimated at $66.4 billion as of December 2015. He is so

  • successful due to his distinctive personality traits, which include mind flexibility, workaholism,

    and profound self-confidence.

    Amancio Ortegas flexibility of mind has been proven by his pioneering fast fashion clothing

    business. Ortegas progressive ideas made it possible to respond to consumer demand quickly,

    developing ready-to-wear fashion clothing (instead of designing haute couture collections),

    which in turn made Zara a globalizer with its 1,700 storefronts in 86 countries. According to the

    legend, Amancio Ortega's habit is to behold young people lifestyles to reproduce relevant

    innovative design at Zara. They say Ortega might see a motor biker at traffic lights who is

    wearing a hand-made jeans jacket decorated with occasional patches; and the next moment

    Amancio would call one of his designers to describe the garment he has recently spotted to have

    it in the coming Zara collection.

    In 2012, Ortega asked the vice-president of Inditex, Pablo Isla, to take his place of the Inditexs

    chairman. However, at the age of 79-years-old Amancio Ortega travels daily to the headquarters,

    10 miles away from his home place, showing no sign of being less interested in the further

    international expansion of his brands. Despite his wealth, Ortega has never had his personal

    office, as he enjoys working together with other

    designers in the open-plan space developing new

    trends and discussing new colors and fabrics. Forbes

    top list persona remains open to all employees, as

    there are no memos and lack of computers in this

    hierarchically flat company and Inditex employees

    do not have to fix appointments with Ortega long

    beforehand. Moreover, Loreta Garca, one of

    Inditex managers, reports that they never attend

    fashion shows, but listen to customers spotting new

    tastes, Amancio Ortega still performing as the main

    muse and inspiration for the whole corporation.

    Covadonga O'Shea, Ortegas friend and his biographer, mentions that Amancio like to work and

    rarely takes vacations. The textile empire owner lives quite a modest life residing in his native La

  • Corua, the Galician town with approximately 300,000 citizens located on the North Atlantics

    windswept coast. Amancio Ortega visits the same coffee shop every day, downtown La Corua,

    ordering eggs and fries for breakfast. Fellow citizens often see Ortega walking along Plaza Maria

    Pita. The mogul behind Zara eats lunch in the company cafeteria, sharing tables with some of the

    fabric experts and buyers to discuss business matters. He never visits resorts for millionaires,

    Greece being his rare vacations choice. His flying fear also motivates Ortega to devote a few

    weeks a year to hiking pilgrimage tours along Galicia. While at home, declining extravagant

    hobbies, Amancio Ortega is fond of rearing chickens and goats, as well as meeting his

    grandchildren at his Spanish villa.

    Xabier R. Blanco, a Spanish journalist, who wrote an unauthorized biography of Amancio

    Ortega Gaona, states: Poverty clearly made him who he is. There was hunger. Show me any

    great boxer who didnt come from this kind of background. Unprivileged childhood conditions

    and no MBA degree obtained have obviously made Amancio the man he is: possessing an

    entrepreneurial spirit, deeply involved with all the business routine, while keeping a low profile.

    Despite his fashion business, Amancio Ortega has no interest in wearing brands himself, being

    seemingly the only person who does not wear Inditexs garments. His outfits preferences are as

    modest as his lifestyle: no tie, a simple white shirt, a blue uniform blazer, and gray trousers, -

    none of those branded.

    Unique Business Model of Zara

    Ventured into clothing retail since early juvenility, Amancio Ortega Gaona launched his own

    company, GOA, in 1963. Having formed successful sewing cooperatives with the low-cost local

    workforce, Ortega was offering fast production clothing turnarounds. Several factories being

    acquired in Spain, Amancio Ortega opened his first storefront in La Corua downtown, called

    Zorba, in 1975. Named after Ortega and his first wifes favorite movie, the store soon changed

    the name Zorba into Zara. The reason of that was a complaint of the owner of a bar located

    nearby and called Zorba. The bar Zorba remained local,

    but Zara stores expanded to several Spanish cities by the

    early 1980s. Few years after Inditex holding company was

    formed, 1988, Ortega opened first Zara shop in Portugal,

    where he found the working force to be even cheaper than

    in Spain. In 1989, Zara shop was opened in the USA, and

    it was introduced in London in 1998. Zaras further

    international expansion came along with Inditex retail

    portfolio development: 1991 Pull & Bear, and Massimo

    Dutti; 1994 Stradivarius; 1998 Bershka; 2000

  • Oysho; 2008 Uterqe. By 2000, the Inditex brands were distributing in over 30 international


    Amancio Ortegas business success is tightly connected with a unique business model of the fast

    fashion retailer. The two key ideas of this business model are: to give customers what they want

    as quickly as possible. For instance, Zara is known for its 12,000 new designs developed and

    distributed annually, speed being the retailers driving force. Moreover, Zara refreshes its

    garment stocks twice a week. Amancio Ortega Gaona imposed a golden rule back in the 1970s,

    which states to receive new orders within 48-hours time period. That is why, Zara factories look

    like a well-oiled machine, where hundreds of designers and sales analysts co-operate in an open

    space floor, organized around these two principles, namely the delivery speed and a customer-

    orientated approach. Designers usually create three models a day, and analysts together with

    patternmakers choose one item from each set. Commercial experts usually possess regional

    expertise, being from varied backgrounds. These experts apply reports from local managers to

    compile appropriate to customer habits collections. Each employee of Zara is trained to keep an

    eye on clients styles, requests, and selling trends.

    These two basic rules to give customers what they want, and deliver the orders with the

    motorway speed, - have assisted Amancio Ortega in building a fashion empire. The Spanish

    Inditex corporation has become a global fast fashion retailer with its 92,000 employees

    employed in 6,500 shops, which are currently located in 88 countries, the annual sales being over

    18.1 billion. The fast fashion empire would have been impossible to build unless Ortega has

    ripped up traditional haute couture business model to replace it with his own unique one, refined

    over decades. However, those brutal schedules, the fashion industry has never attempted to keep

    to, are not always flawless. There arise failures from time to time, being removed from stores as

    soon as detected. There was such an incident on Manhattan, where Zara white jackets were not

    loyally met by the clientele. As soon as sales staff discovered that the latest prefer cream color,

    the white ones were withdrawn, and the model reissued in cream tones, which in turn was a

    success. There is a term location-specific customisation, and for Zara the term Zaramisation

    is quite suitable as well.

    To save their customers from identically dressed fashion twins, Zara never reproduces its hits.

    The brand simply modifies and offers varied versions. Loyal Inditex customers also know the

    best days to purchase items from new collections. For Zara, the day of new clothing deliveries

    are Sundays and Thursdays, whereas shoes come on Tuesdays and Fridays. At Stradivarius and

    Massimo Dutti, new garments arrive on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every Tuesday and Friday

    works for Bershka and Pull & Bear. Seduced by the state-of-the-art collections, which are

    meticulously cut and tailored in countries with strong traditions of sewing, famous Zara clients

    include: Queen Letizia of Spain, the Duchess of Cambridge, Michelle Obama, Mary Berry,

    Olivia Palermo, Alexa Chung, Katie Holmes, Samanta Cameron, January Jones, etc. A famous

    fashion blogger, Garance Dore, has coined another term Zaragasm, which means being

    seduced by the variety of choice and fashionable message of Zara offers.

    Due to the business model described and a Zaragasm influence, very few companies are able to

    compete with Inditex. Its high street competitors are known only for fashion, as opposed to Zara,

    which is also associated with its definite style, a feature attracting privileged 45+ demographic

    with its vast disposable income. A retail analyst at Barclays, Christodoulos Chaviaras, believes

    the company is challenging itself to operate faster. A new Zara stor...


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