What every entrepreneur looks for when opening his business is that the idea is a success and monopolizes the maximum possible market volume. And while being aware of how difficult it will be to fulfill their desire, several Spaniards have slipped into that list of great global successes, reaching even the Top 5 of the richest on the planet. Perhaps when they started their businesses they were not called ‘entrepreneurs’, but in Spain their number does not stop growing despite the lack of financing.
On the occasion of the World Entrepreneurship Day that is celebrated this Sunday, April 16, it is important to remember the most striking cases of globally successful entrepreneurs, who were born with a small company in Spain. They are those of four men from the textile and food sector: Juan Roig (Mercadona), Amancio Ortega (Inditex), Ramón Areces (El Corte Inglés) and Isak Andic (Mango). All of them founded a small company years ago, which today have become multinationals capable of generating the most important income in the country and exporting Spanish products to all corners of the world.
It is the best known case of Spanish successes worldwide. Its founder, Amancio Ortega, is the fourth richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated fortune of more than 65,000 million euros and thus surpassing even Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Born in Busdongo (León) in 1936, his professional career in the textile world began with 14 years in La Coruña as an employee of two clothing stores until in 1963, at the age of 27, he created the company Confecciones GOA dedicated to the manufacture of bathrobes . Twelve years later he opened the first Zara store in La Coruña, where he started selling clothing for men, women and children.
A year later, in 1976, GOA became the owner of Zara and stores began to open throughout Spain. It was not until 1985 when the Inditex group was created due to the increase in the volume of activity of the company. The first store that Ortega opened outside of Spain was in Porto in 1988, but in the 90s it grew largely throughout Europe, America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
The listing of his empire was in 2001 and in 2011 Ortega announced to his workers that he was leaving the presidency of the Inditex group in favor of Pablo Isla, who had already been CEO and vice president of the group since 2005. Inditex has expanded from 269 stores in 2005 to 7,013 at the end of 2015 under Isla’s leadership.
Inditex S.A., acronym for Textile Design Industry, has its headquarters in the Sabón Industrial Estate, in Arteijo, La Coruña. The group currently has more than 152,000 employees and operates more than 7,000 stores on five continents under the main brands of Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterqüe, Lefties and Stradivarius.
According to Forbes magazine, on October 23, 2015, Amancio Ortega was momentarily ahead of Bill Gates as the richest person in the world, coinciding with the highest stock market in Inditex history. Something similar would happen again for a few minutes on September 7, 2016.
Although at the moment it is not a multinational the size of Inditex, it is the most successful food chain in Spain with around 1,600 supermarkets spread throughout the territory. Mercadona S.A. was born in 1977 within the Cárnicas Roig group, a company of Francisco Roig and Trinidad Alfonso, the parents of Juan Roig (Valencia, 1949), current president of the business. Mercadona’s name comes from the Valencian ‘mercat de dona’ (women’s market).
In 1981 Juan Roig bought his parents’ company, which at that time only had eight grocery stores in Valencia. Currently, the almost 1,600 supermarkets reached 21.6 billion euros in turnover in 2016 and a market share of 14.7% with a presence in the 17 autonomous communities of Spain.
Mercadona’s growth and expansion is considered a case study worthy of study within the sector. During the 1998-2003 period, the growth of its sales volume exceeded 25% per year, when the normal ratio does not usually exceed 9%. Juan Roig was awarded in 2010 with the Prince of Asturias Award for Business Excellence.
The co-founder, owner and president of the textile multinational Mango, Isak Andic (Istanbul, 1953), arrived in Barcelona at the age of 15 and began his career in fashion in 1972 when he made his first sale to a store called Ibiza de Barcelona with four blouses hand embroidered from Turkey. He opened his first store in Barcelona in 1973, but it was not until 1984 when he founded the chain with his brother Nahman and businessman Enric Casi and opened his first establishment in Barcelona.
In 1994 they already had more than one hundred stores throughout Spain and began its international expansion. Today it has more than 2,700 points of sale in more than 105 countries. The firm has more than 16,000 employees, 80% women.
In 2010 it became the second largest Spanish fortune, being later surpassed by entrepreneurs such as Juan Roig Alfonso. In 2011, he ranked 221 in the Forbes magazine ranking of the world’s richest characters, with an estimated net worth of $ 4.8 billion. Currently Andic has the fifth most important fortune in Spain and despite its importance, he has led an extraordinarily discreet way of life, since until 2007 he did not make public appearances.
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Ramón Areces (La Mata, Asturias 1904-Madrid 1989) was the person who brought to Spain the idea of multi-brand warehouses like the ones he knew from his time working at the El Encanto store in Havana and Anglo-Saxon models from the United States and Canada . In 1935 he settled in Madrid and in 1940 he established the limited company El Corte Inglés. In the 1960s they opened branches in Barcelona, Seville and Bilbao, thus beginning their national expansion.
The diversification of the company with the opening of Hipercor, Supercor or Bricor, has turned it from one of the small tailor shops on Calle Preciados in Madrid into one of the largest companies in the history of Spain. According to the latest data, the company obtained 2016 revenues of 16.52 billion euros and has more than 92,000 employees across the country.