Bill Gates cemented his reputation as being the richest person in the world for co-founding Microsoft, the world’s largest PC software company. He first held the record in 1995 to 2007, again in 2009, and from 2014 to today. But for two days this month, another person took over the crown. The person is Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder and chairman of Inditex, the mother company of Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, and Uterqüe.
For two days this week, Ortega overtook Gates when Inditex’s stock rose by 2.5% this Wednesday, increasing Ortega’s fortune by $1.7 billion. By Friday, it went down by 2.8%, making him worth $77.8 billion as compared to Gates’s $78.1 billion. Forty-five minutes later, Ortega was ahead, only for Gates to overtake him after five minutes.
In October 2015, the same thing happened when Ortega briefly overtook Gates.
Ortega got his start in retail when he worked as a store clerk in La Coruña, Spain. He opened his own business with less than $100, where his wife Rosalia Mera created lingerie, pajamas and nightgowns. In 1975, they officially opened Zara. The business was originally called Zorba, after the film Zorba the Greek, but changed the name when Ortega realized there was a bar named Zorba two blocks away.
Zara started by selling clothes that looked similar to more expensive clothing, but later changed its design, along with the manufacturing and distribution process to shorten lead times, a process he called “instant fashion.” Today, the brand creates 12,000 new designs each year and only takes four to five weeks to design an item and deliver it to stores.
There are 2,100 Zara stores located across 88 countries, including the Philippines.
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