ZARA owner Amancio Ortega has been named the second richest retailer in the world for 2017.
The son of a railway worker and housemaid left school at 14 and steadily built up his company Inditex into the world’s biggest clothes retailer, with annual sales of nearly €22bn in the year to January 2017.
He sits behind Amazon boss Jeff Bezos on the RetailWeek list, who has a net worth of €71 billion compared to Ortega’s €70.4 billion.
The group now has more than 7,000 outlets in 88 countries.
Ortega started working in a clothes shop in La Coruna when he was only just into his teens.
By his early 20s he was making bathrobes with his siblings and the woman who would become his wife, Rosalia Mera.
After opening his first Zara store with his partner and late brother in 1975, Ortega went on to build a fashion empire which continues to expand strongly even as he now takes a back seat.
Inditex, which includes Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius, owes its success to multiple refinements of its range through the year.
By manufacturing more than half of its clothing in Europe and North Africa, it can get its products, designed at its headquarters, into stores in just three weeks.
This fast fashion was allied with a 100% bonus scheme for store managers hitting sales targets. The result has been a potent retail force. Inditex floated on the Madrid stock market in 2001 and Ortega retains a near 59% stake, worth €61bn, in the business.
He is the third richest man in the world.