Zara has completely altered daily life for this sleepy Spanish town. Here's what residents think about it.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
- Zara's headquarters are located in Arteixo, a small town on the northwest coast of Spain.
- More than 5,000 employees across various departments including design, photography, sales, and e-commerce work here. The site is also home to Zara's largest distribution center, which is responsible for shipping the retailer's clothing to 96 different countries around the world.
- The presence of these sprawling headquarters has had a profound impact on the nearby city of La Coruña, where many of Zara's employees choose to live.
Zara may have grown up, but it never really left home.
The clothing chain has been based in Galicia, on the northwest coast of Spain, since 1975. But what started out as just one store has grown into an enormous, multi-national business that is considered to be the largest fashion retailer on the planet, turning out over $30 billion in sales a year.
Despite this, Zara has always stayed true to its roots, and its billionaire founder, Amancio Ortega, has continued to expand its global headquarters in Galicia to accommodate its growth.
To do so, the company has brought in thousands of employees from different parts of the world to work on its design, photography, sales, and e-commerce strategy. This has had a dramatic impact on the culture of the nearby city of La Coruña, where many of these employees choose to live.
The locals call it the "Impacto Inditex," and it's felt in all areas of the city. Whether it be the fashionistas that roam the streets, dipping in and out of its trendy stores, cafes, and bars, or the disgruntled residents who say they face rising living costs, it's clear that Inditex is having a profound impact on life in La Coruña, for better or worse.
We visited the city in August to see how much it has changed with the rise of Zara:
Amancio Ortega opened the first Zara store in La Coruña in 1975. He originally named his store Zorba after the 1964 film "Zorba the Greek," but changed it after he discovered a nearby bar had the same name. Ortega reshuffled the letters to come up with Zara.
Ortega opened Zara's headquarters in the nearby town of Arteixo in 1977. This is still its home today.
Over the course of two decades, the brand expanded dramatically, opening stores across Spain and in different countries around the world. In 1985, Ortega incorporated the chain into a holding company called Inditex.
Today, Inditex's headquarters occupy a sprawling, 860,000-square-foot space in Arteixo.
The headquarters is also home to some of Zara's factories and a distribution center where clothes are boxed and loaded onto trucks to be sent to 96 countries around the world.
The distribution center has had a significant effect on La Coruña's exports business.
Inditex is also the largest employer in the region. More than 5,000 people work at its headquarters across various divisions including design, e-commerce, and sales.
Residents say that this has had a profound impact on the city of La Coruña, where many of these employees choose to live, shop, and spend money. With a population of almost 250,000 people, La Coruña is significantly larger than Arteixo.
"Inditex is the big company that moves everything here," Adolfo Lopez, 58, a business owner who has lived in the city all his life, told Business Insider.
Designers, models, and photographers come from all parts of the world to work here.
It has also made the city more cosmopolitan. Residents say Inditex employees like to gather in one of the city's busiest streets, Calle de Estrella.
When we explored Calle de Estrella on a Monday evening, the restaurants were brimming with people.
There are several stores along the street that are clearly targeted to a more fashion-conscious customer.
It doesn't take long to stumble across an Inditex-owned store in La Coruña.
Within 400 feet of our hotel, there are six: Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterqüe, and Massimo Dutti. It's clear that Inditex is the dominant force in retail here.
While many residents are happy that the city has evolved, it does have its consequences.
According to real-estate agency Engel & Völkers, average rental prices have increased by 15% in the last two to three years.
Employees choose to live in La Coruña over Artexio because it is a more vibrant city.
Despite these rental increases, most residents seem to view the business and its founder favorably.
Ortega is known for leading an extremely private life and seldom speaks to the press. He is said to live in a discreet apartment building in La Coruña.
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