Amancio Ortega

DEFINITION of 'Amancio Ortega'

Spaniard Amancio Ortega founded the world’s largest fashion clothing retailer, Zara, in 1975 and saw it grow to 1,500 stores in 70 countries by 2012. Born in 1936, he started delivering shirts at age 12 after dropping out of school because his family needed the money. He learned how to make dressing gowns and lingerie with his first wife, Rosalia Mera, with whom he had two children.

BREAKING DOWN 'Amancio Ortega'

Ortega founded the Inditex Group in 1963, which owns Zara and other men’s and women’s retail apparel, footwear and home textiles businesses. He opened  the first Zara store in A Coruña in 1975, shaking up the retail fashion industry by dramatically speeding up turnaround schedules so that clothes go from idea to the sales floor in two weeks. Zara’s fashions are based on runway attire but sold at prices the average person can afford.

Inditex Group designs, manufactures, distributes and sells its own products in more than 6,000 stores around the world. The company went public in 2001. In 2011, he stepped down as Inditex’s chairman, but he retains ownership of 60% of its shares as of 2014. He also has significant real estate holdings, including the tallest building in Madrid – the Torre Picasso – and properties in high-end areas of London, New York, Los Angeles and Barcelona.

A self-made multibillionaire with an estimated net worth of $65.4 billion in 2014, according to Forbes, Ortega is one of the wealthiest people in the world alongside Carlos Slim Helú, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Despite his fortune, Ortega is known as a man of habit and modest attire and is famously private, avoiding interviews with journalists. He lives in A Coruña, the same small town in Galicia, Spain, where he first opened Zara.

Ortega and his first wife, Mera, divorced in 1997. Ortega remarried to Flora Perez Marcote in 2003, with whom he had fathered another child in 1983. When his first wife passed away in 2013, their daughter, Sandra Ortega Mera, inherited 90% of her mother’s wealth, becoming Inditex’s second-largest shareholder and the richest woman in Spain.