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Zara heiress Marta Ortega takes over fashion empire

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Marta Ortega with her father Amancio, the founder of Zara owner Intidex
Marta Ortega with her father Amancio, the founder of Zara owner Intidex

The 37-year-old daughter of the billionaire founder of Inditex has been chosen as the company’s next chairman in a "generational" shift for the world’s largest fashion retailer.

Marta Ortega will become chairman of Inditex, which owns brands including Zara and Massimo Dutti, in April, following the departure of Pablo Isla who has been in the role for more than a decade and is credited with making it a $100bn company.

Ms Ortega has worked at the retail empire for 15 years, starting out on the shop floor at its high street brand Bershka.

Shares in Inditex fell almost 6pc in Madrid as the company surprised investors by also announcing the immediate replacement of chief executive Carlos Crespo with the company’s most senior lawyer, Oscar Garcia Maceiras.

Investors and analysts raised concerns that Inditex’s new leadership lacked the experience and track record of their predecessors.

Analysts at Kepler said: "We believe that the timing is not the best ... as we believe that both Marta Ortega and the CEO Oscar Maceiras have a lot to prove when it comes to their ability to run this big monster in the middle of the Covid crisis.

Cedric Rossi, an analyst at Bryan Garnier, added: “Although this transition phase seemed to have been prepared internally, the departure of Pablo Isla may leave a great void in the near-term.”

Inditex said that the appointments completed a “generational handover process” that began in 2011 when its founder Amancio Ortega stepped down as chairman.

Ms Ortega’s reclusive father Amancio founded Inditex in 1975 when he opened its first shop with his ex-wife, Rosalia.

He owns a 59pc stake in Inditex and is one of the world’s richest men, with a net worth of $71bn (£53bn), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Inditex, which also owns Pull&Bear and Stradivarius, has grown to dominate high streets with 6,600 shops around the world.

Ms Ortega was educated at a Swiss boarding school before studying business management in London and while working as an assistant in a Bershka shop on the King’s Road in west London.

Marta Ortega (centre) with Vogue's Anna Wintour (left) and designer Diane von Furstenberg (right) at an event in New York in late 2019
Marta Ortega (centre) with Vogue's Anna Wintour (left) and designer Diane von Furstenberg (right) at an event in New York in late 2019

Growing up, she was an equestrian competing at the Grand Prix show-jumping level. She counts Athina Onassis, the only surviving descendant of Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis who was married to Jackie Kennedy Onassis, among her friends.

Ms Ortega has not held a senior role at Inditex until now but has been responsible for launching several campaigns, including Zara's premium collections which includes a collaboration with the French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In August, Mr Isla said in an interview: “[Marta is] very humble. But at the same time, of course, she has strong opinions about many different things.”

He said on Tuesday that “the time has come to turn a new page” with Ms Ortega at the helm.

Ms Ortega added: “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.

“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.”

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