A Trip To Zara

By Shehzad Khan ’14

Monday, we went to a small town in the northwest of Spain called La Coruna. We were there because this is the home of the infamous retail clothing brand Zara, which is one brand of the company Inditex. Inditex is a multi-billion dollar company and the largest clothing retailer in the world. They have had 20+% margins every year for the past 7 years running, and we were looking forward to learning more about their operation and how they’ve managed to be so successful.

There, we got a tour of their entire operation. First, we saw where the desigerns work to create designs and build prototypes. They sit in the same area as the store managers who are monitoring what pieces are selling well / poorly by store. This data then informs the designers with regards to what tpes of pieces people like in order to know what to focus their design efforts on.

Next, we went to the factory where we saw how the piecese were designed. It is amazing how efficient the system is. Staff uses a computer to determine the optimal number of pieces they can cut out of one rectangle of fabric so that they can waste the least amount possible. That fabric is then put on an assembly line that cuts and sorts the pieces. Once the pieces are assembled, the process of shipping to various stores is a true feat in logistics. Everything is bar coded and lines with clothes hanging autmatically move into each section for the store it is being sent to. This includes packing the clothes into boxes and having the boxes come out in separate areas for separate stores.

Finally, we met the Cheif Communications Officer of Inditex, who gave us a summary of their business model and answered any questions we had. It was a great visit, and I look forward to heading to Madrid this evening to visit some more companies, see some sights, and enjoy some great local food.

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