After 79 years ruled by men, El Corte Inglés will be headed by a woman: Marta Álvarez, adopted daughter of Isidoro Álvarez, who started a relationship with María José Guil, her mother, sometime after she was widowed. Guil ran with her first husband, Alfonso del Río, the famous restaurant El Riscal, a meeting place for politicians, businessmen, aristocrats and people of the Madrid jet set, and among them Isidoro Álvarez, with whom he got married, despite the rejection of the family.
The arrival to the presidency of Marta Álvarez has been convulsa, one could say own of a plot of Game of thrones. When his adoptive father died in 2014, his cousin Dimas Gimeno, dismissed at the beginning of last summer after years of struggle, occupied the throne until he was snatched by Jesus Nuño de la Rosa with the blessing of Marta and his sister Cristina and all the advice. Now De la Rosa will continue to hold the position of CEO and will maintain the presidencies of travel, insurance, IT and finance.
But why not have taken the presidency then? They say sources close to the department store that give a break to the company and get strength with someone outside the family. Others point to the resolution of the lawsuit filed by María Antonia Álvarez, Marta's aunt and mother of Dimas Gimeno, against her adoption and that of her sister, which was dismissed by a judge a few weeks ago.
Be that as it may, on Wednesday Marta Álvarez managed to seize the coveted throne after being unanimously approved by the council. Isidoro's oldest daughter lost her biological father when she was barely four years old, so the only father figure she met was Isidoro himself, who raised her and his sister in his image and likeness. Engaged in studying languages and seeing the world from a young age, they traveled both inside and outside Spain with him and his mother. In those trips there were no shortage of visits to the centers of El Corte Inglés, if it was a Spanish city, or to the most important stores of the place they visited.
There Marta began to soak up the latest trends in fashion, discovered a world that ended up exploring from within years later and assumed a custom that continues to practice today. Values learned that, without a doubt, will serve you to carry out your position in the presidency. The control, along with his sister Cristina, of almost 60% of the capital through the Ramón Areces Foundation and his participation in the IASA society, will also serve to face the three major challenges that the firm is facing.
The first, the digital transformation, Álvarez must follow in the footsteps of his predecessors to turn El Corte Inglés into a multi-channel sales platform and not be left behind in front of online commerce giants like Amazon. The second, to re-launch the international business, that of sales at street level, which barely increased by 0.3% compared to the annual growth rate of 20% of the online. And the third, reduce a debt of more than 3,300 million euros and achieve increase its rating to the degree of investment. For this, it has a non-strategic property portfolio of 95 assets.
One of Isidoro Álvarez's wishes was for Marta to form and fly out. Therefore, after studying law he moved to London, where his love for art made him study a course in this discipline and began working at the auction house Sotheby's, where he stayed five years, four in the British capital and one in Madrid . In addition to London, he also lived in France, where he acquired French as a third language.
On his return he met Juan Claudio Abelló, son of the businessman Juan Abelló and Anna Gamazo Hohenlohe, with whom he married in 2000. His wedding was witnessed by the Prince of Asturias, now king, and the Dukes of Lugo; and it was attended by the most relevant politicians and businessmen of the moment. Today Marta and Juan are parents of two children who received the same name as their parents.
Within El Corte Inglés, the already president started from the bottom, as had her predecessors and all her adoptive family. The objective ?, "familiarize yourself with the forms of El Corte Inglés and know the store from within before sitting in an office in Hermosilla". Its place was the first floor of the Castellana stores, where women's fashion is housed. Her companions remember her as "reserved and discreet, like her father, with great interest in fashion and all the infrastructure behind the sale." They say that he was involved in the ordering and messaging process and that he liked to be aware of everything. He also held different positions in the purchasing area, where he reordered and promoted the home and decoration department.
His first step after taking office was to meet with unions and workers' representatives, who according to company sources have received the news in a satisfactory manner. The next day, in the early hours of the morning, all the employees received a letter in which Álvarez highlighted the team that forms El Corte Inglés and remembered his relationship with the company since he was a child. In the letter he also asked for the collaboration of all to face the "interesting and promising future" that awaits the group.