Gilbert Harrison, Marta Alvarez, Jorge Pont

The World Retail Congress has honored Gilbert Harrison and Jorge Pont as the first recipients of the Isidoro Alvarez Lifetime Achievement Medal.

The two were presented with the award at the World Retail Congress’ closing gala dinner on Thursday, at the Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela in Madrid.

Pont is the international division director of El Corte Inglés, the biggest department store group in Europe. He was a board member of the National Retail Federation for 15 years, and currently serves as chairman of the board of Sephora Cosmeticos España. He is also vice chairman of Iberia and of the Spanish Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Harrison is the founder and chairman emeritus of boutique investment banking firm Financo, which provides financial advisory services to retail, apparel footwear and beauty firms, as well as other merchandising and consumer companies and private equity firms involved in the space. Upon his retirement from Financo in December 2017, he formed the Harrison Group, a consulting and financial advisory firm that services merchandising and products companies. He is also on the board of directors for Inter Parfums.

Ian McGarrigle, chairman of the World Retail Congress, said, “With the World Retail Congress returning to Spain, where it launched in 2007, we are delighted to be able to launch this very special lifetime achievement medal in the name of one of the most important names in Spanish retailing: Isadoro Alvarez.”

Alvarez was the former chairman and chief executive officer of El Corte Inglés, and in 2011 was inducted into the World Retail Hall of Fame. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement medal will be individuals recognized for their dedication to the betterment of retailing.

McGarrigle noted that Pont was recruited personally by Alvarez in 1965 when the “business had just two stores.” In addition to his close ties to Alvarez, Harrison was also honored for his work and support of the World Retail Congress.

Harrison said, “I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award. As a merchant prince who loved retail, Isadore was always intrigued with the stores, the product and the customer. When touring with him in Madrid or New York, it was special to see him connect with consumers and he was exciting to be around. I am proud that this award, for both Jorge and myself, will continue his legacy. He was a true friend.”

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