Retail

Fashion, food, and footwear: The richest retailers on Forbes 2017 World’s Billionaires list

Dominic Powell /

Retail can be a lucrative industry for those that are successful, according to the latest global billionaire rankings from Forbes. 

In the top 100 richest people on the 2017 Forbes World’s Billionaires list, released yesterday, 15 of them have made their fortune through retailing all manner of products, from high-end fashion to groceries.

Read more: How Australia’s retail sector is being transformed by competition and the changing tastes of shoppers

Claiming the title of richest retailer in the world, and ranking number four on the list overall ,is Zara co-founder Amancio Ortega, with an estimated net worth of $US71.3 billion ($92.6 billion).

Ortega is closely followed by luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault at number 11. Arnault is chief executive of LVMH and has an estimated net worth of $US41.5 billion ($53.9 billion).

Other wealthy pioneers in the world of fashion and high-end goods retailing include major shareholder of cosmetics retailer L’Oreal, Liliane Bettencourt, coming in at number 14 with a net worth of $US39.5 billion ($51.3 billion), and footwear giant Nike founder Phil Knight at number 28, with a net worth of $US26.2 billion ($34 billion).

Founders and directors of major supermarket chains also landed in the top 100, with the children of Walmart founder Sam Walton taking out the 15th, 16th, and 17th spots on the list, each with a net worth around $US34 billion ($44.2 billion).

The children of the deceased founders of German discounter Aldi also reside within the top 50 spots on the list, with each also holding a stake in American supermarket chain Trader Joes. Aldi was recently named one of the best brands in Australia.

Other notable inclusions are Schwarz Group owner and Lidl and Kaufland chief executive Dieter Schwarz at number 53, with a net worth of $US17 billion ($22.1 billion). Kaufland recently announced it will be expanding into Australia, and while there’s speculation that Lidl will follow suit, there has been no confirmation so far.

Pharmaceutical billionaire and Walgreens chief executive Stefano Pessina rounded out the retailers in the top 100, coming in at number 80 with a net worth of $US18.9 billion ($24.5 billion).

Closer to home, only two Australian retailers made the cut on Forbes’ overall list this year. Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey landed at number 1161 on the list with an estimated net worth of $US1.8 billion ($2.3 billion), and fashion retailer Solomon Lew came in at #1678 with an estimated net worth of $US1.2 billion ($1.5 billion).

Here are the top 10 richest people in the retail and fashion industry according to Forbes.

Rank Individual Net Worth ($US)
1 Amancio Ortega (Zara) $71.3 billion
2 Bernard Arnault (LMVH) $41.5 billion
3 Liliane Bettencourt (L’Oreal) $39.5 billion
4 S. Robson Walton (Walmart) $34.1 billion
5 Jim Walton (Walmart) $34 billion
6 Alice Walton (Walmart) $33.8 billion
7 Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr. (Aldi/Trader Joes) $27.2 billion
8 Phil Knight (Nike) $26.2 billion
9 Stefan Persson (H&M) $19.6 billion
10 Theo Albrecht, Jr. (Aldi/Trader Joes) $18.8 billion

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany. Email him at [email protected].

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