Amancio Ortega, the Spanish billionaire retail tycoon behind fashion chains Zara and Bershka, has grown the value of his UK property empire to over £2 billion, defying the doom and gloom surrounding the London property market.
The entrepreneur, who is worth £63.5 billion in the Sunday Times 2017 rich list, has a property arm called Pontegadea UK which owns several buildings in the capital, including office block Devonshire House opposite the Ritz, and numerous stores on Oxford Street.
The firm’s portfolio value rose to £2.1 billion in 2017 from £1.88 billion a year earlier, according to accounts published in the Evening Standard.
Turnover rose 3% to £75.1 million, and pre-tax profits were largely flat at £50 million.
The strong performance comes despite concerns that Britain’s vote to leave the EU would cause some businesses to scrap new office or store expansion plans, leave London, or prompt some tenants to ask for rent cuts.
Mayfair-based Pontegadea UK said: “The company does not expect Brexit to have a significant impact on its operations as it is a long term investor in prime locations.”
Pontegadea had previously shrugged off the impact of Brexit, stating in 2016 that it had carried on spending after the June referendum, entering into a near-£100 million deal to buy another property, according to accounts.
Ortega, who co-founded Spanish clothing giant Inditex in 1985, revealed in 2015 that he was buying an office block in St James’s. Pontegadea UK snapped up Almack House for over £225 million, less than a month after agent JLL was hired by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor to find a buyer for the 97,500 square feet block on King Street.
Earlier in 2015 the fashion mogul bought a £400 million stretch on Oxford Street, including retail space, adding to a number of offices it owns such as Devonshire House opposite The Ritz.
The deals helped push the value of his property portfolio to nearly £1.8 billion. That figure was up substantially on the £620 million recorded in the 16 months to 31 December 2014. Pre-tax profit jumped to £47.5 million from £21.3 million.
The notoriously secretive fashion boss – the son of a railway worker – does not discuss his real estate business.
Ortega grew the Inditex fashion brand globally to include labels such as Pull & Bear and Bershka.
He briefly passed Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man with an estimated wealth of nearly $80 billion (£53 billion).
But it hasn’t always been plain sailing. Last month, it was revealed Ortega’s fortune plunged by $4.3 billion after shares of Inditex slid 7% after an analyst stoked fears about a sales slowdown at Zara during the holiday quarter.
As a result, Ortega slipped in the ranking’s of the world’s richest people, to seventh-richest in the world and the second-richest in Europe behind LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault.
DealMakerz thinks growth in the value of Ortega’s property empire is another positive sign for London’s property market in a post-Brexit world.
It comes after figures showed foreign investors plan to invest £40 billion into Central London office and retail property, with many expecting the capital’s long term growth prospects to outweigh short term Brexit concerns.