Zara heiress proves everyone wrong

When news broke that Zara heiress Marta Ortega Pérez was taking the reins, it caused a bloodbath. Now she had the last laugh.

Zara’s parent company lost billions late last year following the explosive announcement that its founder’s glamorous young daughter was in the top job.

But just six months later, Marta Ortega Pérez proved the world wrong.

Amancio Ortega founded fashion giant Zara in 1975 and is now Spain’s richest man, with a staggering net worth of over A$85 billion.

The 86-year-old controls around 60% of shares in parent company Inditex and in 2015 was briefly the richest person on the planet when the company’s shares peaked.

Today, Inditex has more than 6,000 stores around the world, including Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius.

But in November 2021, it was revealed that Ortega’s 38-year-old daughter would become Inditex’s next chairwoman as part of the fashion juggernaut’s “generational handover process” – an announcement that sparked a stir. bloodbath on the share price.

Within hours, shares fell 6%, representing a billions in capital loss for Inditex, which had begun to rebound from the pandemic.

The news was criticized by a series of commentators, who described the change as “risky” and a “step backwards”.

But after officially taking office on April 1 this year, Ms Ortega Perez has the final say.

Marta’s $480 Million Feat

Marta Ortega Pérez worked for Inditex – now the world’s largest clothing retailer – for 15 years after starting out as a saleswoman in London.

And although she’s only been calling the shots for less than three months, she’s already overseen some truly stunning results.

Last week it was revealed that Inditex had recorded a staggering 80% increase in profits in the first quarter to the end of April.

This represents a net profit of 760 million euros (1,141,440,200 Australian dollars), compared to 440 million euros (660.8 million Australian dollars) in the same period in 2021.

That’s an increase of A$480.6 million on the same period last year – and although Ms Ortega Pérez has only been at the helm for a third of that time, it’s a start very solid, especially given the brutal apprehensions many expressed when he was first promoted. revealed.

In the first quarter, sales also jumped 36 per cent to €6.7 billion (A$10 billion) and the company’s gross margin hit its highest level in a decade, with the news having pushed stocks up 5% last week.

The impressive results were attributed to a post-lockdown fashion spending boom, with Zara attracting customers despite rising prices at a time when cost of living pressures weighed heavily on the market.

And profits would have been even higher – at €940 million (A$1.4 billion) – had it not been for Inditex’s €216 million (A$324 million) provision for estimated costs related to Ukraine and Russia for all of 2022.

CEO Garcia Maceiras told analysts that Inditex would continue to raise prices in the next quarter, but the focus on affordable fashion would remain.

He added that the welcome results were due to a “well-differentiated model that delivers good results.”

“The strength and adaptability of the business model and the excellent performance of our creative, commercial and operational teams are driving this differentiation forward, supported by a strategic focus on innovation, digitization and sustainability,” he said. in a press release.

Who is Marta Ortega Perez?

Born in 1984 in Vigo, Spain, Ms. Ortega Pérez is the only daughter of the founder of Inditex and his second wife, Flora Pérez.

She has worked for Inditex since the age of 23, when she landed a job as a saleswoman in a London store.

She has since risen through the ranks, most recently working on Zara’s brand image, and

in her spare time, she is passionate about horse riding and languages.

She is regularly present in the front row of fashion shows, rubbing shoulders with fashion icons such as Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg.

In 2018, she married her second husband, Carlos Torretta, who works in the public relations department of Inditex, in a lavish ceremony that made the rounds on the social pages of European glossy magazines.

Ms Ortega Pérez has a son with ex-husband Sergio Álvarez Moya, and she welcomed daughter Matilda, her first child with Mr Torretta, in 2020.

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