Spanish billionaire Zara clothing co-founder dies at 69

Spain’s richest woman Rosalia Mera dies after brain haemorrhage

Rosalia Mera, a former Spanish seamstress who co-founded the Zara clothes empire and eventually became the country's richest woman, has died aged 69 after suffering from a brain haemorrhage on holiday on the island of Minorca.

Ms Mera co-founded Inditex with Amancio Ortega, her then husband, in their native Galicia as a manufacturer of bathrobes. They later turned to making women's clothing and opened the first Zara store in 1975.

Inditex is now the world’s largest clothes retailer by sales and Spain’s largest company by value.

Born in 1944 in a working-class neighbourhood of La Coruña, Ms Mera left school at age 11 to work in a clothing shop. She was widely acknowledged to have played a significant role in laying the foundations that saw a fledgling company from a traditionally poor region of Spain transform itself into a sprawling multinational.

During 2012, Zara opened more than one new store a day.

Ms Mera and Mr Ortega, who had two children together, separated in 1986.

Mr Ortega, now Spain's richest man and recently ranked the third-wealthiest person in the world by Forbes, floated Inditex on the Madrid stock market in 2001.

Ms Mera retained a slightly less than 7 per cent stake in the company, helping her attain a net worth estimated at €4.7 billion.
– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013