amazon jeff bezos

Don’t knock the power of the merchant class — despite all the woes of a retail world, there’s still good money to be made in selling stuff.

Just ask Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Inditex’s Amancio Ortega, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s Bernard Arnault, Alibaba’s Jack Ma or pretty much anyone with the Walton last name.

Ten of the 30th richest people in the world, as seen on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, made their money in retail, e-tail or beauty.

The fattest cat is Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, but the top merchant — the second richest overall — is the man of the retail moment: Bezos.

And when Amazon’s deal to acquire Dubai-based rival pushed the e-tailer’s stock to an all-time high, Bezo’s worth jumped to $75.6 billion, nudging him past Warren Buffett.

Hailed as a hard-charging entrepreneur type, Bezos keeps busy driving the already relentless Amazon forward, but he does have some billionaire-grade hobbies.

Bezos’ side company, Blue Origin, has been floating the idea of setting up an “Amazon-like shipment service for the moon that would deliver gear for experiments, cargo and habitats by mid-2020,” according to the Washington Post, which the billionaire owns.

Fashion’s richest might be chasing Bezos from the perspectives of business and bank account, but it’s not just the buzzy e-commerce world that’s led to the top.

Bloomberg’s tally has Ortega, who controls Zara, as the world’s fourth richest person, with $74.2 billion, and luxury titan Arnault at number 10 with $43.5 billion.

Consultant Jonathan Low, a partner at Predictiv, said the tally of the world’s wealthiest merchants suggests “that brands matter more than tangible investments and property.”

And while there are the tech disruptors, such as Bezos, Low said the digital world reinforces some of the strengths of old-world retailers.

“The impact of digital marketing just enhances the value of those brick and mortar investments and provides much higher returns,” he said. “There is convergence. People are using all channels now to do their shopping and the result is that these guys are benefitting.”

Here, the top retail and fashion-related names on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

Jeff Bezos

Source of Wealth: Amazon

Overall Rank: 2

Total Net Worth: $75.6B


Amancio Ortega

Source of Wealth: Inditex

Overall Rank: 4

Total Net Worth: $74.2B


Bernard Arnault

Source of Wealth: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

Overall Rank: 10

Total Net Worth: $43.5B


Ingvar Kamprad

Source of Wealth: Ikea

Overall Rank: 13

Total Net Worth: $41.8B


Liliane Bettencourt

Source of Wealth: L’Oréal

Overall Rank: 14

Total Net Worth: $38.3B


 Jack Ma

Source of Wealth: Alibaba

Overall Rank: 15

Total Net Worth: $36.8B


Rob Walton

Source of Wealth: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Overall Rank: 16

Total Net Worth: $35.2B


Jim Walton

Source of Wealth: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Overall Rank: 17

Total Net Worth: $34.9B


Alice Walton

Source of Wealth: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Overall Rank: 18

Total Net Worth: $33.8B


Phil Knight

Source of Wealth: Nike

Overall Rank: 28

Total Net Worth: $24.8B

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