Inditex profits surge in European recovery sign

Spanish clothing giant Inditex, owner of the Zara brand, said Wednesday its profits rose five percent last business year, driven by recovery in its key European markets.

Inditex profits surge in European recovery sign
Pablo Isla, CEO of Inditex arrives to deliver results in Arteixa on Wednesday. Photo: Miguel Riopa / AFP

The rise brought its net profit to 2.5 billion euros ($2.65 billion), the group said in an earnings statement on its 2013-2014 financial year ending in January.

It said net sales rose eight percent to 18.12 billion euros. Inditex is the biggest clothing firm in the world by sales.

Europe accounts for two thirds of Inditex's sales but it is expanding worldwide.

It opened 343 new stores in 2014 including in Shanghai and Miami, bringing the total to 6,683 stores worldwide include high street brands such as Massimo Dutti and Bershka. 

It said it hired more than 8,700 new staff last year, including 1,800 in its home market and logistic base Spain, which is gradually recovering from an economic crisis.

"We continue to see huge growth opportunities in both western and eastern Europe," said its chief executive Pablo Isla.

"We believe that Inditex is in an excellent position to take advantage of global growth opportunities," he told a news conference Wednesday at Inditex's headquarters in northwestern Spain.

The company said it planned to further expand this year by opening up to 480 new high street shops, including a flagship store in New York's SoHo district and one in London's Oxford Street.

Inditex shares were 2.31 percent higher in mid-morning trading Wednesday on the Madrid stock exchange, whose key index was slightly down overall.

The results come a few days after the fortune of Amancio Ortega, founder of the Zara clothing store chain, reached a new financial milestone.

The fortune of Spain’s wealthiest man surpassed the €60 billion mark for the first time on Monday thanks to the rising share price of Inditex.

when his fortune moved past the €60 billion mark for the first time on Monday.

Spain´s wealthiest man is now even richer thanks to the rising share price of Inditex, the textile giant he created in 1985.

The Galician-born creator of the textile company that was started in 1985 holds a 59.29 percent stake in the group, whose shares were trading at a historic high of €28.81 on Monday in anticipation of Wednesday's year end results.

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Albert Rivera resigns as Ciudadanos leader after Spain election drubbing and bows out of politics altogether

Just 18 months ago, Albert Rivera was being compared to France's Emmanuel Macron and Canada's Justin Trudeau, was feted as kingmaker in parliament and tipped to be a future prime minister.

Albert Rivera resigns as Ciudadanos leader after Spain election drubbing and bows out of politics altogether
His bared all for his first campaign poster in 2006 and resigned on Monday. Photo: Ciudadanos/ AFP

But on Monday, the leader of Spain's Ciudadanos, Albert  stepped down after the business-friendly party suffered a drubbing in a repeat general election. 

The party, which has been rocked by internal divisions over strategy, won just 10 seats in the 350-seat parliament in Sunday's polls which were marked by a surge in support for far-right party Vox, down from 57 seats in the previous ballot in April.   

“In coherence with who I am, I don't think it's surprising that I resign today. It's the responsible thing to do,” he said adding he was also stepping down as a member of parliament and abandoning politics.

“The time has come to serve other people, to serve my parents, to serve my daughter who I have spent less time with than I should have,” he added after meeting with his party's executive committee.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists won the most seats in Sunday's election but once again fell short of an absolute majority in parliament, prolonging months of deadlock.

Several top Ciudadanos figures resigned in the lead up to the election in protest over deals the party struck with upstart Vox to allow it to govern in several regions and cities along with the main opposition Popular Party.

Rivera, 39, had led Ciudadanos since he founded it in 2006 as a regional party in Catalonia which focused on fighting separatism and defending Spanish unity. 

He burst onto the Catalan political scene in a breath of fresh air, vowing to fight corruption and posing naked on campaign posters to “lay politics bare”. 

The party soared in the polls when it went national in 2014 on a market-friendly, anti-corruption platform which sought to wipe out the traditional left-right divide and it entered parliament the following year.

Rivera, a former water polo player who worked at a bank before entering politics, recently moved the party to the right in an attempt to make Ciudadanos the country's main conservative party, and attacked Sanchez after having failed to form a coalition with him in 2016.

Just 18 months ago, he was being compared to France's Emmanuel Macron and Canada's Justin Trudeau and was feted as kingmaker in parliament and quite possibly as a  future prime minister.