AMANCIO ORTEGA has replaced Bill Gates as the richest man in the world.
The owner of Inditex fashion group, which includes Zara, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, has seen his net worth increase to €69.5 billion, just above Bill’s estimated €68.9 billion.
Born in Leon just before Spain’s civil war in 1936, the 80-year-old Spaniard once revealed he was ‘hurt and humiliated’ as a child when his mother was refused credit at a bank.
He left school at 13 to begin work in a clothing shop and vowed to never let his family suffer poverty again.
After working with several retailers, Ortega founded Zara in his living room with ex-wife Rosalia Mera in the 1960’s.
He listened to his employees and managers to ask them what the fashions were and what people were buying.
He also kept his manufacturers in Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Morocco so he could change styles and order more popular products more quickly.
Inditex’s model, based on an established local supply chain, has seen almost unprecedented success.
The company has now created Zara, Zara Home, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho and Uterque, and has more than 7,000 stores worldwide.
But despite his overwhelming success, Ortega is said to have remained frugal and down to earth, eating lunch with his employees in the staff canteen, buying coffee from the same cafe for years and dressing in the same blazer and shirt every day – neither of them from Zara.
While he owns a yacht, it measures 40m and is said to not reflect his wealth.
His life is notoriously private and is said to revolve around his children and grandchildren.
He rarely ventures far from his home in A Coruna and is said to prefer no fuss when he strolls around La Marina.