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Inditex profits rise on strength of Asian sales

Fashion group Inditex, controlled by billionaire Amancio Ortega and his family, gave its most upbeat economic outlook for two years this week as it reported an increase in net income of 5% for 2009.

The Spain-based group opened 343 new stores in 2009, 98% of which were outside the domestic market, and reported a net income of €1.3 billion. This increase was particularly prominent in the Asian market where sales accounted for 12.2% of total sales, compared to 2008 where they were 10%. 

Inditex's rapid expansion means it is now the world's largest apparel group by sales. It plans to continue to expand throughout 2010 including a joint venture with fellow family firm Tata group in India, where the company will open its first store in May.

Inditex was founded by Ortega, who still serves as chairman, in 1975 when he opened his flagship Zara store in Spain. The brand is now the cornerstone of the empire, which has 4.607 stores in 74 countries. Ortega was ranked the 9th richest man in the world by Forbes last week, with an estimated personal fortune of $25 billion. His daughter Marta also works in the business and speculation is rife she will succeed her 74-year-old father when he steps down as company head. 

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