El Corte Ingles is one of Spain's largest private companies, but was finally unseated as the country's biggest retailer first in 2012 by Zara parent Inditex and then by supermarket giant Mercadona. It is principally a department store operator, selling a wide range of fashion, soft furnishings, household goods and appliances through its 90 or so domestic stores. Sister fashion retailer Sfera is positioned as a direct rival to the Inditex portfolio. However, the group has extended its footprint into numerous other sectors ranging from supermarkets (Hipercor and Supercor) and DIY (Bricor) to insurance (Seguros) and travel services (Viajes El Corte Ingles). It has been described as probably the single greatest influence on Spanish culture after Real Madrid football club. Almost a quarter of the population own an El Corte Ingles storecard, and it attracts around 2m customers a day. Yet despite its substantial operations in its domestic market, the group has only a minimal presence beyond the Iberian peninsula. As a result, financial performance dipped significantly in the late 2000s as a result of Spain's economic problems, with revenues slipping steadily between 2007 and 2013. There has been a recovery since then, with revenues rebounding to €15.9bn by 2017. The business was established by Ramon Areces, who acquired a small Madrid tailoring business owned by his uncle (El Corte Ingles translates as "The English Cut") in the 1930s and built it into Spain's biggest retailer. His nephew Isidoro Alvarez was the architect of the group's continuing expansion in the latter half of the century and was chairman and controlling shareholder of El Corte Ingles until his death in 2014. Alvarez' own nephew Dimas Gimeno Alvarez was appointed as chief executive in 2013, but was eventually replaced in 2017 by former general manager Jesus Nuno de la Rosa. The family still controls most of the equity, but attracted a €1bn investment from a Qatari fund in 2015. Adbrands no longer offers a business profile for this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.
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Capsule checked 2nd October 2018
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Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Sep 2014: Two of Spain's most respected business leaders died this month, both aged 79. Isidoro Alvarez was responsible for establishing his uncle's department store group El Corte Ingles as the country's single most important retailer and its presiding cultural force over the second half of the 20th century (though its influence has been curbed since 2000 by more internationally focused rival Inditex). He remained chairman and controlling shareholder until his death this week. His successor as chairman has yet to be named. That followed the death a week earlier of Santander chairman Emilio Botin, who transformed a small regional lender into one of the world's biggest banks. He is succeeded as chairman by his daughter Ana Patricia Botin.
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