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When we think at some of the greatest companies in the world, we think of examples such as Google, Amazon and so on. But one of the richest men in the world has made his fortune through the most traditional business you can think about - selling clothes.
In fact, in the summer of 2017, the shares of his company soared and for a couple of hours and he held the title of the richest man in the world. But Gates claimed back his position later on the same day.
Without any formal education except for the first few years in school, he has built the largest clothing company in the entire world.
It all started in Spain. Back then child labor was normal. So Amancio left school at the age of 13 to start working as a delivery boy in a local shirtmaker shop. Where he learned to make clothes by hand.
He loved his job and started excelling at it, so much that by the time he was 24, he was appointed as a manager.
Not bad for the 1960s, right?
Ortega realized that only the wealthy residents could afford their clothes so he started working on his own designs that are more affordable. He started producing pretty similar designs but at a much lower cost targeting the rest of the residents. His strategy work out and he successfully sold all of his designs and used the earnings to open his first factory in 1963
Finally, in 1975, he decided to establish his own brand and named Zara. Zara’s strategy was absolutely simple, sell quality products for a reasonable price so that everyone could afford them.
This strategy seems so obvious, why others didn't use it.
When Ortega was working in that shirtmaker store. He realized that how the cost of the garments significantly increase when they move from designers to factories to stores. He learned the importance of delivering products directly to consumers without third-party distributors. So Zara started doing everything by itself. This reducing the cost
But Ortego’s ambitions didn't stop there, it was time to go international. He established his first store outside Spanish borders in Portugal, in 1988. And a year later In New York. And since then the company has been unstoppable. Ortega realized he can't target all the segments of the market through Zara. So he acquired many different brands such as Pull&Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti and so on. And formed them all under a holding company - Inditex. But Zara is the biggest of them, it accounts for over 60% of total sales.
Unlike other brands, Zara didn't waste money on advertisements. It knew that as long as there are quality clothes for affordable prices, people are going to buy them, so they kept opening new stores instead. By the year 2000, Zara had stores all around North America and Europe. So it was time to invade Asia and the rest of the world. Inditex has over 7000 stores now.
What also sets them apart is that, since everything is done in-house. Zara can design a product and get them into stores in less 2 weeks compare to 6 month which is industry average.
Ortega followed just in time production strategy. That means they made their supply chain so effective that they could supply their stores in less than 48 hours. Which means, they don't need to order more than they need and if something is selling too good. They know that they can have it back on the shelves in 48 hours.
That provided Zara with absolutely unique advantage.
This incredible success story started with a 13-year-old kid who simply had a dream and didn't have any formal education. It seems like nothing is impossible as long as you are patient, dedicated and hard working.
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