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 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 10:23 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 4:15 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:57 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
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.
ADVERTISEMENT