Since 2005 Isla has been the chief executive officer of Inditex — the world’s largest fashion retailer. He holds 1,805,320 shares in the company and is in charge of its 6,600 stores worldwide. Isla is responsible for the organizational structure from design and manufacturing to distribution and sales. He is based in the Inditex head office in Arteixo, close to the port city of La Coruña, in northern Spain.
Inditex under Isla collects data such as how many and why certain garments are selling in order to inform its supply chain. While conventional high street retailers pre-commit about 60 percent of their production, Inditex plans only about 15 percent in advance — the rest is made in response to customer sales and feedback from the staff. To achieve this, the company’s production base of over 1,500 suppliers is at least 51 percent “proximity sourced” in Spain, Portugal and Morocco, meaning Inditex can design, manufacture and deliver product to the shop floor, in three weeks.
Despite leading the way in fast fashion Isla’s commitment to sustainability is clear. He has pledged to eliminate toxic chemicals from its supply chain by 2020, and has innovative systems in place to ensure clothing wastage is kept as low as possible.
Isla is a law graduate from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Isla began his professional career in 1988 as attorney general with the Spanish Military of Transport, Tourism and Communications, and in 1991 he joined the Spanish General Direction of Legal Services. From 1992 he was director of legal services for Banco Popular, where he went on to serve as its general secretary from 1998-2000. For the next five years, Isla held the position of chairman of the Altadis tobacco group, where he stayed before being made deputy chairman and chief executive officer of Inditex in 2005. In 2011 he was also made chairman.