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El Corte Inglés took its name from a small tailor's shop founded in 1890, located between Calle Preciados,
Calle Carmen and Calle Rompelanzas in Madrid. In 1935, Ramón Areces Rodríguez, backed by his uncle, César Rodríguez, bought the tailor’s and so started his business venture.

In 1939, they acquired premises at Calle Preciados 3, Madrid, earmarking the ground floor, first floor and part of the second floor for sales. In June 1940, when the business had seven employees, Ramón Areces constituted the company El Corte Inglés, with his uncle César Rodríguez as partner and chairman of the company.

Between 1945 and 1946 the first complete refurbishment of the building took place, resulting in a total sales area of 2,000 m2 distributed over five floors; in this way, it started selling by departments, a typical feature of department store. The adjacent building, Preciados 5, was incorporated between 1953 and 1955. Over time, successive expansions and modifications were made in order to offer a modern image in accordance with the demands and needs of society.

The 60s was a key decade for El Corte Ingles, as it began its expansion across the country with the opening of centres in Barcelona, ​​Seville, Bilbao, etc. The group underwent a growth phase until the mid-90s, marked by the diversification of its business, which started to adopt positions in other business areas.

The 80s was an intense decade for the group, which ended with the death of Ramón Areces on July 30, 1989. During the previous years, the chairman had been preparing his successor for the chairmanship, Isidoro Álvarez, who had held the position of managing director since 1966, which allowed him to get a thorough understanding of the group.

The Isidoro Álvarez years in the chairmanship were marked by strong growth, business expansion and important milestones, such as the acquisition of Galerías Preciados and Marks & Spencer, the landing of stores in Portugal and diversification.

On September 14, 2014, Isidoro Álvarez died. Two days later, on September 16, the El Corte Inglés Board of Directors appointed Dimas Gimeno Álvarez as chairman of the company. 

On June 14, 2018, Nuño de la Rosa is appointed chairman of the Board of El Corte Inglés.

On July 10, 2019, the Board of Directors appointed Marta Álvarez as chairwoman.


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