By  on January 11, 2011

The founder of Spanish retail giant Inditex SA, owner of the Zara chain, plans to step down as chairman of the group and has proposed that deputy chairman and chief executive officer Pablo Isla succeed him, in a move seen as guaranteeing continuity at Europe’s largest clothing retailer.

In a letter to employees, Amancio Ortega — ranked by Forbes as the world’s ninth richest man in 2010 — said he would nominate Isla to the post of chairman and ceo at the company’s next shareholders’ meeting in July.

“This new stage, which in reality was initiated over recent years, will show the path for the future, and will combine youth and experience, which, with responsibility and professionalism, lead to doing things properly,” said Ortega, 74.

The secretive billionaire, who never gives interviews, added that he would remain on the board of Inditex, in which he holds a 59.3 percent stake.

Based in Arteixo in northwest Spain, Inditex operated 4,907 stores in 77 countries as of Oct. 31 under its various banners, including Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Pull&Bear.

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