Skip to main content

Rosalia Mera, Spain's richest woman and co-founder of Zara dies

By Stephanie Ott, CNN
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Fri August 16, 2013
Rosalia Mera founded Zara with her then husband Amancio Ortega in 1975. It is one of the world's biggest retailers.
Rosalia Mera founded Zara with her then husband Amancio Ortega in 1975. It is one of the world's biggest retailers.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spanish media reported that Rosalia Mera had suffered a stroke while in Menorca
  • The self-made billionaire was aged 69. She leaves behind two children, Sandra and Marcos.
  • Mera and her ex-husband Amancio Ortega opened their first Zara store in Spain in 1975
  • The clothing chain expanded worldwide, becoming one of the biggest retailers

(CNN) -- Rosalia Mera, Spain's richest woman and co-founder of the international clothing giant Zara, has died at the age of 69.

Spanish media reported that Mera suffered a stroke while on vacation on the Mediterranean island of Menorca. She was transferred on Thursday from the hospital in Menorca to the private San Rafael Hospital in La Coruna, where she died at 8.30pm local time, according to newspaper reports.

Zara's parent company, Inditex, said: "The group wishes to send its sincere condolences to [Mera's] loved ones and friends at this extremely difficult time, after the loss of a person who contributed so much to the origins and development of the company."

Rosalia Mera Goyenechea was born on January 28, 1944, in La Coruna in Spain's Galicia region. The self-made billionaire began her career as a seamstress at age 11, when she dropped out of school to work as a tailor in a clothing shop.

Mera married Amancio Ortega in 1966 and nine years later they opened the first Zara store in La Coruna. Zara expanded worldwide and over the years, Mera helped build the company into one of the world's biggest retailers. She and Ortego went on to found Inditex, which also owns the Massimo Dutti and Bershka brands.

Mera and Ortega separated in 1986. They have two children, Sandra and Marcos.

In 1986, Mera co-founded Paideia Galiza Foundation, based in her hometown, La Coruna. The organization helps people with physical and mental disabilities -- like her son Marcos, who was born with a mental disability -- to find jobs and it also provides training and education workshops. The foundation was not immediately available for comment.

According to Forbes, Mera's net worth was $6.1 billion as of March 2013. Ortega, 77, remains Inditex's majority shareholder. He is listed by Forbes as the fourth-richest man in the world with a net worth of $57 billion.

Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:18 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
This is how the two U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola will be evacuated from west Africa.
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 2:29 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
How did al Qaeda recruit a former Florida high school footballer?
updated 7:08 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would be "complicated." Can John Kerry's visit change that?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
updated 11:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
What're you doing after work today? If you lived in these cities you could head to the BEACH!
ADVERTISEMENT