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BUSINESS

Amancio Ortega’s daughter to take over as Zara and Inditex boss

Marta Ortega, daughter of Spain's wealthiest man, will take over as chairwoman of the world's biggest fashion retailer in a generational shift for the firm, Inditex announced on Tuesday.

Amancio Ortega's daughter to take over as Zara and Inditex boss
Photo taken in 2016 shows the founder and chairman of the Inditex fashion group Amancio Ortega (R) with his daughter Marta Ortega. Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

She will replace Pablo Isla, who has been chairman since 2011, in April, the company said in a statement. He was deputy chairman between 2005 and 2011.

Ortega, 37, has been working for the company in different areas for the last 15 years, even working anonymously as a shop employee at one point to learn the ins and outs of the company.

She is the youngest daughter of Amancio Ortega, 85, who founded fast-fashion giant Zara with his ex-wife Rosalia in 1975 in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia.

He remains the firm’s largest shareholder with a 59 percent stake and is one of the world’s richest men.

“I have lived and breathed this company since my childhood, and I have learned from all the great professionals I have worked with over the last 15 years,” Marta Ortega said in the statement.

“I have always said that I would dedicate my life to building upon my parents’ legacy, looking to the future but learning from the past,” she added.

Inditex, which operates nearly 7,000 stores worldwide, posted a net profit of almost 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) during its first half of 2021, which runs between February and July.

The fashion group owns seven other brands in addition to Zara, including upmarket Massimo Dutti and teen label Stradivarius.

It is the world’s biggest fashion retailer, ahead of Swedish rival H&M.

Stocking shelves

Inditex thanked Isla, who is resigning, for his “leadership and vision” during his 17 years at the firm, saying the group had become “the leading company in its sector worldwide” under his watch.

It also hailed Marta Ortega, saying she “has led the strengthening of Zara’s brand image and fashion proposition, an area she will continue to oversee.”

She studied international business in London and carried out months-long stays in the departments of finance, accounting, sales analysis and design when she began working at Inditex.

Marta Ortega also briefly worked as an anonymous employee at the group’s shops in 2007, reportedly stocking shelves, to get a better understanding of how they operate.

Oscar Garcia Maceiras, who had become the company’s general counsel and secretary of the board in March, will become CEO “effective immediately”, Inditex said.

Her will replace Carlos Crespo, who took the post two years ago. Crespo will remain chief operating officer.

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ECONOMY

‘Tougher times’: Sweden’s economy to slow next year

Consumers in Sweden are set to crimp spending over the rest of the year, pushing the country into an economic slowdown, Sweden's official economic forecaster has warned in its latest prognosis.

'Tougher times': Sweden's economy to slow next year

A combination of record high energy prices over the winter, rising interest rates, and inflation at around 10 percent, is set to hit household spending power over the autumn and winter, leading to lower sales for businesses and dragging economic growth down to just 0.5 percent next year. This is down from the 1.2 percent the institute had forecast for 2023 in its spring forecast. 

“I don’t want to be alarmist,” Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, forecasting head at the Swedish National Institute of Economic Research, said at a press conference announcing the new forecast. “We don’t expect the sort of economic slowdown that we saw during the financial crisis or the pandemic, where unemployment rose much more. But having said that, people who don’t have a job will find it tougher to enter the labour market.” 

She said that a shortage of gas in Europe over the winter, will push electricity prices in Sweden to twice the levels seen last winter, while the core interest rate set by Sweden’s Riksbank is set to rise to two percent. 

As a result, Sweden’s unemployment rate will rise slightly to 7.8 percent next year, from 7.7 percent in 2022, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the institute had previously forecast. 

On the plus side, Westerdahl said that she expected the Riksbank’s increases in interest rates this year and next year would succeed in getting inflation rates in Sweden under control. 

“We expect a steep decline in inflation which is going to return to below two percent by the end of 2023,” she said. “That depends on whether electricity prices fall after the winter, but even other prices are not going to rise as quickly.” 

After the press conference, Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said he broadly agreed with the prognosis. 

“I’ve said previously that we are on the way into tougher times, and that is what the institute confirms,” he told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT. “There’s somewhat higher growth this year, at the same time as fairly high inflation which will hit many households and make it tougher to live.”

Damberg called on Sweden’s political parties to avoid making high-spending promises in the election campaign, warning that these risked driving up inflation. 

“What’s important in this situation is that we don’t get irresponsible when it comes to economic policy,” he said. “Because when parties make promises left, right and centre, it risks driving up inflation and interest rates even more, so Swedish households have an even tougher time. Right now, it’s important to prioritise.” 

 The call 

Sverige är på väg mot lågkonjunktur enligt Konjunkturinstitutets (KI) senaste prognos. Enligt finansminster Mikael Damberg (S) är det därför viktigt att Sverige sköter sin ekonomi ansvarsfullt och vågar prioritera.

– Jag tror att alla partier behöver vara lite återhållsamma och inte lova för mycket, säger han.

Mikael Damberg tycker att KI tecknar en realistisk bild av Sveriges ekonomiska verklighet.

– Jag har sagt tidigare att vi går mot tuffare tider och det är väl det som KI bekräftar. Något högre tillväxt i år men sämre tillväxtförutsättningar nästa år samt fortsatt ganska hög inflation som slår mot många hushåll och gör det tuffare att leva, säger han.

Och vad vill regeringen göra åt det?

– Det är viktigt att vi i det här läget inte är ansvarslösa i den ekonomiska politiken. För när partier lovar vitt och brett till allt riskerar vi att driva upp inflationen, öka räntan ytterligare och svenska hushåll får det svårare. Nu måste man våga prioritera.

Se intervjun med Damberg om konjunkturläget klippet ovan.

“Electricity prices are going to be twice as high as last winter,” said 

Elpriserna kommer att bli dubbelt så höga som förra vintern, säger Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, chef för Konjunkturinstitutets prognosavdelning, på en pressträff.
Den lågkonjunktur som KI ser framför sig kallar hon trots det för en mjuklandning. Den handlar främst om att människor kommer att ha mindre pengar att konsumera.

“Brist på gas i Europa gör att energipriserna ser ut att bli rekordhöga under vintern”, skriver KI, och ser att inflationen kommer att närma sig 10 procent.

Deras prognos för styrräntan är att den ligger på 2 procent vid årsslutet, vilket gör att inflationen faller tillbaka snabbt under nästa år och Riksbanken låter då räntan ligga still.

KI tillägger att de offentliga finanserna är fortsatt starka och de bedömer att det finns ett budgetutrymme på runt 120 miljarder kronor för de kommande fyra åren.

Vad gäller BNP spår KI en blygsam tillväxt på 0,5 procent nästa år – en nedskrivning från tidigare 1,2 procent.

Prognosen för arbetslösheten under 2023 är 7,8 procent, 0,3 procentenheter högre än tidigare prognos.

Fredrik Fahlman/TT
Johanna Ekström/TT

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