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2018年04月25日19:47 来源:小站整理
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Amancio Ortega

Behind the mask of Zara

The management style of Europe’s most successful businessman




IT IS a short walk from a tiny shop with peeling yellow paint in downtown La Coruña, in northern Spain, to a dazzling five-storey store, opened in September by Zara, by far the world’s most successful purveyor of “fast fashion”. In this stroll across three city blocks, the career of Amancio Ortega unfolds: from teenaged apprentice in the corner shop, Gala, a men’s clothing business, to Europe’s richest entrepreneur, the majority owner of one of its best-performing firms.

在西班牙北部拉科鲁尼亚(La Coruña)市中心有一家小店,黄色的墙漆已片片剥落。从这里出发,不用走多远便到达一幢令人目眩的五层建筑。这是目前世界上最成功的“快时尚”供应商Zara于去年9月开张的商铺。这段跨越三个街区的路途,浓缩了阿曼西奥·奥尔特加的职业生涯:十几岁时在街角的男装店Gala里做学徒,之后成为欧洲最富有的企业家、在该洲业绩名列前茅的公司的大股东。

According to one employee of Zara who works with him, “the true story of Amancio Ortega has not been told.” Mr Ortega, the son of an itinerant railway worker, who started at the corner shop aged 13, had a basic upbringing: an ex-colleague says he talks of meals of “only potatoes”. He has lived mainly in Galicia, a relatively poor region with no history in textiles. Yet there, in 1975, he founded Zara—a manufacturer-cum-retailer that, along with its sister brands, has over 7,000 shops globally.


Mr Ortega (pictured) is now 80 but he remains energetic and involved in the business (if uninterested in wearing trendy clothes). He owns nearly 60% of Inditex, the holding company of Zara and the other chains, which is worth some €100bn ($106bn). According to Forbes magazine, in September his total assets, of nearly $80bn including his properties and other holdings, briefly surpassed those of Bill Gates.


The manner in which he rose does not fit the usual template. His lack of formal education has profoundly affected his management style. Those close to him confirm that he does read—novels and newspapers—but he is reportedly ill-at-ease with writing at length. He has never had his own office, desk or desktop computer, preferring to direct his firm while standing with colleagues in a design room of Zara Woman, the flagship line. One former long-term CEO of Inditex, and Mr Ortega’s business partner for 31 years, José María Castellano, says that his ex-boss’s working method is to discuss things intensely with small groups, delegate paperwork, listen hard to others and prefer oral over written communication.

奥尔特加的崛起之路并不符合惯常的范本。他缺乏正规的教育,这一点深刻地影响了他的管理风格。他身边的人证实,他的确会阅读(小说和报纸),但据说他写起较长篇幅的东西时就不那么自如了。他一直都没有自己的办公室、办公桌或台式电脑,他更喜欢和同事们一道,在旗舰系列“Zara女士”的一间设计室里站着管理自己的公司。曾长期担任印地纺CEO的何塞·玛利亚·卡斯特利亚诺(José María Castellano)与奥尔特加是长达31年的商业伙伴。他说,他前老板的工作方式是同小组激烈讨论事务,委托他人进行文书工作,认真聆听他人的意见,并且喜欢口头交流更甚于书面沟通。

This preference for close personal interaction may even have helped him concoct the formula behind Zara’s success. At a time when the fashion industry mostly outsourced production to China and other low-wage countries (as it still does), Mr Ortega decided to keep most manufacturing close to home. Some 55% happens in Spain, Portugal and Morocco—near the firm’s main markets. That in turn allows twice-weekly deliveries of small but up-to-the-minute fashion collections to every store. Inditex’s share price has soared tenfold since its flotation in 2001, outstripping rivals such as Gap and H&M (see chart).



His leadership style appears to favour extreme introversion. A video from a surprise 80th birthday party in March shows him tearful and backing off from assembled staff. He almost never speaks in public nor accepts national honours—aside from a “workers’ medal” in 2002. Colleagues say he resented a rare biography of him, from 2008, by a fashion journalist, Covadonga O’Shea. So few photos existed of him pre-flotation that investors who visited awkwardly confused him with other staff. But that low profile means there is room for other top executives to shine. Inditex’s chairman and CEO, Pablo Isla, has run things since 2011, yet Mr Ortega shows up to work every day. In many firms a professional manager might chafe against the presence of a revered founder, but there are no such reports at Inditex.

看上去,他的领导风格偏向于极度的内敛。一则视频显示,在去年3月庆祝他80岁生日的惊喜派对中,他眼含热泪地从聚集在一起的员工身边退去。他几乎从未在公开场合发言过,也没接受过国家荣誉,除了在2002年获得的“劳动者勋章”。2008年,时尚记者科瓦东高·奥莎(Covadonga O’Shea)十分罕有地为他撰写了一部传记,但他的同事们称,他对这本书很是反感。公司上市前他的照片流传甚少,竟令来访的投资者尴尬地将他与其他员工混淆。不过,这样的低调作风也意味着其他高管就有了大显身手的机会。印地纺的主席兼CEO帕布罗·伊斯拉(Pablo Isla)自2011年开始管理事务,但奥尔特加仍每天都去上班。在许多公司,职业经理人也许会因一位倍受尊敬的创始人的存在而烦躁不已,但在印地纺并没有这样的传闻。

In one respect at least, Mr Ortega is more typical of European billionaires. Like other rich recluses—such as Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish founder of the IKEA furniture chain—he goes in for only limited philanthropy. He pays for 500 annual scholarships for Spanish students in America and Canada and gives to Catholic charities and for emergency relief. Larger-scale philanthropy would bring unwanted publicity. Like others in southern Europe, he may also be wary of inviting political attacks, such as when Pablo Iglesias, of the left-leaning Podemos party, insinuated during a lament about inequality that Mr Ortega was a “terrorist”.

不过至少有一个方面令奥尔特加更符合欧洲亿万富翁的典型特质。和其他深居简出的富翁一样(例如家具连锁店宜家的瑞典创始人英瓦尔·坎普拉德[Ingvar Kamprad]),他只参与有限的慈善活动。他每年提供500个奖学金名额,资助西班牙学生赴美国和加拿大学习,并向天主教慈善机构以及紧急救援行动提供资金支持。更大手笔的慈善捐助只会引来不必要的关注。和其他南欧富豪一样,他似乎也很谨慎,以避免招致政治上的攻击。左倾的社会民主力量党(Podemos)领导人帕布洛·伊格莱西亚斯(Pablo Iglesias)某次哀叹社会不公时,曾影射奥尔特加是个“恐怖分子”。

The managers of his wealth, which grows by some €1bn a year, say they are now scrambling to have slightly less dependence on Inditex, in line with normal investing principles—a difficult task because Mr Ortega only wants property, an investment “he can touch” but which is time-consuming to buy and manage. In December he spent $517m on Florida’s largest office tower, the Southeast Financial Centre in Miami.

奥尔特加的财富每年约增加10亿欧元。他的理财经理称,他们如今正力求略微减少对印地纺的依赖,以遵循一般的投资原则。不过这个任务并不简单,因为奥尔特加只想要不动产这种他“看得见摸得着”、但购买和管理都很耗时的投资项目。去年12月,他豪掷5.17亿美元,购买了佛罗里达最庞大的办公大楼——位于迈阿密的东南金融中心(Southeast Financial Centre)。

Most of his income is still from Inditex dividends. On December 14th the firm reported results that, once again, met high expectations in financial markets. The numbers will have doubtless gratified the limelight-loathing Mr Ortega, who is said in private to chide others to admire his company, not himself.





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