Succession At Inditex Is A Family Affair

The company's new chairperson Ortega Pérez has worked at the company for 15 years, starting on the shop floor of Zara on King’s Road in London.

Marta Ortega Pérez, the youngest daughter of Amancio Ortega, the 85-year-old founder of Inditex, is being handed control of the global fashion empire, including its flagship chain of Zara outlets.    

The La Coruña, Spain–based company—the world’s largest clothing retailer—chose Ortega Pérez, 37, to be its next chairperson and to continue to spearhead its fast-fashion initiatives while expanding internationally and overseeing the more than 6,600 shops that generated €20.4 billion ($22.9 billion) in sales last year.

Ortega Pérez has worked at the company for 15 years, starting on the shop floor of Zara on King’s Road in London. Until now, she never had a defined job title. But unlike her publicity-shy father, she regularly attends socialite parties and major high-fashion shows by designers such as Valentino. Ortega Pérez is credited with building the Zara brand by introducing “mass haute couture” premium collections.

The power succession at Inditex is very much a family affair. “I have always said that I would dedicate my life to building upon my parents’ legacy,” Ortega Pérez recently said, “looking to the future but learning from the past.”

Her appointment is just part of a generational leadership change at Inditex. She replaces longstanding executive chairman Pablo Isla, 57, under whose guidance the company expanded globally while its market value increased sixfold. CEO Carlos Crespo, meanwhile, is being replaced by Oscar Garcia Marceiras, a lawyer with little experience in retail.

Investors’ concern over the new team’s lack of experience saw Inditex’s share price drop more than 5%. However, it should be noted that Ortega Pérez is not taking on her predecessor’s role as executive chairman. Her father, who has a 59% stake in the $90 billion company, remains the eminence grise in defining the direction of the mammoth retailer. Whether that will be enough to build the business while managing the transition to more online shopping remains to be seen.