This is a listening activity for Intermediate 2 students about the story of the Spanish holding Inditex, one of the largest fashion retail groups in the world with eight brands and over 6,300 stores scattered all over the world. We have devised this activity as a task for exam preparation, and it is based on a Radio Nacional de España podcast.
Choose the option a, b or c that best answers the question or completes the sentence. 0 is an example.
0 What is said about Inditex?
a) It is one of the biggest companies in the world.
b) It is a family business
c) It is a miracle.
1 Which sentence is true, according to the text?
a) Ortega’s father suffered a railway accident.
b) He was 12 years old when his father died.
c) His parents didn’t have money to feed them one day.
2 When he left school
a) he was 13 years old.
b) he started working for a shirt shop.
c) he couldn’t get a job for some time.
3 When Ortega and Rosalía started their business
a) they made their own clothes.
b) they were working at a big store.
c) they controlled all aspects of the business.
4 Ortega soon realized that
a) it was best to keep prices low.
b) there were ways to compensate low prices.
c) selling clothes was better than making them.
5 Amancio Ortega
a) is a genius.
b) has prioritised people.
c) is a mad visionary.
6 Amancio Ortega
a) is hard-working.
b) drives himself to work.
c) doesn’t like being surrounded by people.
7 What is Zara’s main philosophy?
a) Producing your own clothes.
b) Knowing how to persuade customers.
c) Looking after customers.
Rosalía Mera untimely death has brought into the limelight once again the phenomenon, someone’d call it the miracle of how the company she helped create, a business of family origins, has become one of the biggest multi-national businesses in the world.
The Inditex story has become a textbook study in most of the best economic and business schools around the world. The story goes that the clothing empire had its origins in a small incident when Amancio Ortega, the son of a humble railway worker in Galicia in North West Spain, suffered a humiliating experience when he was but a boy. And that incident marked him for life.
Covadonga O’Shea is a journalist and writer and unusually she’s had access to Ortega when she was writing the authorized version of his extraordinary life.
He gets all emotional when he recalls the day he was 12 years old and his mother went to pick him up from school and on their way home they called in to a local shop to get some food but the shop keeper said ‘I’m sorry, Josefa, I can’t give you any more credit.’ That meant she couldn’t feed her kids at supper time. He still suffers when he recalls that incident as if it had been a slap in the face, a real humiliation, and he vowed this will never happen to my mother again.
It changed the course of the young Ortega’s life.
He quit school and started working to make money even though he couldn’t get a work permit because he hadn’t yet turned 13, so he became a messenger boy for a shirt shop in La Coruña and with that natural intelligence of his he began thinking about how, rather than selling things that other people make, you could do it all yourself.
The result of those reflections was that Ortega, his elder brother and sister, his wife Rosalía and her sister-in-law set up their own company to make dressing gowns, which they sold to the big stores. But they were still unhappy about not controlling all aspects of the clothing business. Esteban García Canal is a professor of business at Oviedo University.
Once you have produced your own clothes, why not also sell them yourself? So what Ortega did was complete the circle, so to say. I design and make my own clothes, distribute them and then sell them. In that way he could keep his prices down because what he failed to earn in manufacturing the clothes he could make up for in sales or in distribution.
And it was that completed circle that led to the foundation of Zara in 1975. These are the business facts but there were many other reasons that made Zara such a success, the personality of Amancio Ortega is clearly one of them. But was he a genius or just a lucky businessman, someone who found himself in the right place at the right time? A question for Covadonga O’Shea.
He’s a visionary, but not of the mad kind. He has his feet firmly on the ground, and he’s managed to convince the people who work for him that there are two important things: First, that the customer is always right, and that one must aim for excellence.
Mamem del Cerro, a colleague here at Radio Televisión Española believes other more basic qualities can also explain Ortega’s success.
He is a man with an enormous capacity for work, with enormous drive and with the essential leadership needed to be at the helm of a company this size, a man who he himself says knows how to surround himself with highly qualified people but above all who has known how to communicate his ideas.
But what is the philosophy employed to make and sell Zara’s clothes? According to Professor García Canal there are many ideas, but one of the main ones is that Zara doesn’t produce clothes and try to persuade people to wear them, it makes the clothes its client wants.
1C 2B 3A 4B 5B 6A 7C