Isidoro Álvarez, head of Spanish retail giant El Corte Inglés, dies aged 79

Chairman of department store chain had been admitted to hospital on Wednesday

El Corte Inglés Chairman Isidoro Álvarez after last month's shareholders' meeting.
El Corte Inglés Chairman Isidoro Álvarez after last month's shareholders' meeting.LUIS SEVILLANO

The chairman of Spain’s El Corte Inglés department store chain, Isidoro Álvarez, died in Madrid on Sunday. He was 79.

The businessman had been admitted to hospital in Madrid on Wednesday suffering from breathing difficulties, an official company spokesman said.

Álvarez was last seen in public on August 31 at the group’s general shareholder’s meeting. His admission to the Puerto de Hierro University Hospital in the Madrid satellite town of Majadahonda occurred the same day that the death of Santander bank chief Emilio Botín, also 79, was made public.

Born in Borondes in Asturias in 1935, Álvarez was considered one of Spain’s foremost experts in commercial distribution. An economics graduate from Madrid’s Complutense University, he joined the Spanish retail chain at the age of 18 and in 1959 was named a board member of the company, as well as of its textile manufacturing subsidiary Induyco.

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He was named president of El Corte Inglés in 1989 following the death of his uncle and company founder Ramón Areces. Under his leadership, the firm consolidated its expansion, diversifying into hypermarkets, travel agencies, insurance and technology services.

On July 5 of this year El Corte Inglés hired businessman Manuel Pizarro to take up the new role of deputy chairman with the aim of strengthening its financial team.

Last year Álvarez appointed his nephew Dimas Gimeno, who has spent his professional career working at the firm, as its director general.

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