Amancio Ortega Gaona
Amancio Ortega Gaona is a Spanish billionaire businessman who founded and previously chaired Inditex, a fashion conglomerate that owns popular brands such as Zara, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, and others. He is also well-known for his philanthropy and real estate and other investments. He had a net worth of $62.9 billion as of November 2022, making him the third-richest person in Europe and the 18th-richest person in the world.
Amancio Ortega Gaona was born on March 28, 1936, in the Spanish province of León, in the small village of Busdongo de Arbas. He was the youngest of four children born to poor farmers Antonio Ortega Rodrguez and Josefa Gaona Hernández. He grew up in a humble and rural setting, where he learned to work hard and appreciate simplicity. Since he was a child, he had a strong desire to sew and make clothes. He dropped out of school when he was 14 and moved to A Corua, a city in northwest Spain, with his family. He began working there as a delivery boy for a shirt maker and then as an assistant in a tailor's shop. He also met Rosala Mera, his future wife, who shared his passion for fashion.
Mr. Amancio Ortega Gaona had little formal education throughout his life. Ortega was mostly self-taught and learned through observation and experience. He read books and magazines on a variety of subjects, including business, economics, history, and art. He also traveled to various countries and learned about various cultures and people. He was particularly influenced by the Japanese concept of kaizen, which translates as "constant improvement." He applied this principle to his fashion business, developing a quick and flexible production system capable of adapting to changing customer demands.
Ortega was also a generous supporter of others' education. In 2001, he founded the Amancio Ortega Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes education, culture, social welfare, and scientific research. Scholarships for students, grants for teachers, donations to schools and hospitals, and support for cultural and artistic activities have all been funded by the foundation.
The Birth of Zara:
Ortega's career as a fashion entrepreneur began in 1963, when he and his wife Rosala Mera founded Confecciones GOA, a small company that produced bathrobes and other garments. They sold their wares to local shops and wholesalers and quickly earned a reputation for quality and speed. They opened their first retail store in A Corua, named Zara, in 1975. The store sold fashionable clothes at reasonable prices that were inspired by the latest trends in Paris, London, and New York. Ortega's vision was to develop a "fast fashion" model in which he could design, produce, and distribute new collections in weeks rather than months or years. He also spent money on technology and logistics to improve his supply chain and cut costs. Zara quickly rose to prominence in Spain and beyond.
The Expansion of Inditex:
Ortega established Inditex (Industria de Diseo Textil) in 1985 as a holding company for Zara and other brands he created or acquired, including Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, and Uterqüe. Inditex also had a number of subsidiaries that handled various aspects of the business, including manufacturing, distribution, logistics, design, and marketing. Inditex's strategy was to diversify its brand and product portfolio while adhering to its core values of innovation, quality, and customer orientation. Inditex also pursued a rapid international expansion strategy, opening stores in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Inditex will have over 7,000 stores in 96 countries and employ over 170,000 people by 2022. It was also the world's largest fashion retailer in terms of sales and market capitalization.
The Legacy of Ortega:
Ortega stepped down as Inditex's chairman in 2011, but remained the company's largest shareholder and honorary chairman. He also concentrated on his own investments in real estate, energy, tourism, banking, and other areas. He was known for his low-key lifestyle and charitable activities. Millions of euros were donated to various causes, including education, health care, social welfare, and scientific research. He also supported cultural and artistic projects in A Corua, among other places. For his achievements and contributions to society, he received numerous awards and honors. He was widely regarded as one of the world's most powerful and respected businessmen.
"The customer has always driven the business model." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"In the street, I only want to be recognized by my family, my friends and people I work with." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"You must appear three times in the newspapers: when you are born, when you get married, and when you die." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"I'll keep working until the end." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"The success of your business is based in part on how much confidence you have in yourself." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"The perfect place to make money is where there is order and harmony." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"You can not sell apples in a perfumery." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"Innovation and constant improvement must be a permanent objective of our work." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
"What some people would call miracles, I would call them the product of hard work." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
Amancio Ortega Gaona is a remarkable example of a self-made billionaire who began in poverty and rose to extraordinary success in the fashion industry. His career demonstrates how passion, innovation, hard work, and customer focus can lead to the creation of a global empire that provides high-quality goods at reasonable prices. His legacy also exemplifies how wealth and power can be used to benefit worthy causes such as education, health care, social welfare, and scientific research. He serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders who want to make a difference in the world.
"We cannot limit ourselves to continuing on the path we have already opened." ~ Amancio Ortega Gaona
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