Storied French fashion empire Christian Dior, which first opened its doors in 1947 in the heart of post-war Paris, easily remains the planet’s largest retailer focused on clothing, shoes and accessories, according to Forbes’ Global 2000 list.
The high-end retailer saw sales rise by double digits last year to a record-breaking 44 billion euros ($49 billion), with investors bidding the stock up by some 75% during that time. That helps make Christian Dior the 150th largest company on the Global 2000 list of the world’s biggest and most powerful public companies, as measured by a composite score of revenues, profits, assets and market value.
The fashion house benefits from a 41% stake in LVMH, the French luxury empire that owns 70 brands including Louis Vuitton, Dom Pérignon and Sephora. LVMH, which is run by French billionaire Bernard Arnault (net worth: $86 billion), in turn wholly owns Christian Dior. The companies have had a complicated ownership structure for years, with LVMH acquiring the remaining portion of Christian Dior that it didn’t already own last year in a $13 billion deal.
Inditex, the Spanish retail giant behind Zara, is the second-largest retailer in the apparel, accessories and footwear space. Shoppers have embraced fast fashion, with its on-trend styles and affordable prices, and sales at Zara climbed 9% to 25 billion euros ($29 billion) in 2017. Inditex is #289 on the overall list, down from #276 in 2017. Amancio Ortega, 82, started Inditex in 1975 with his ex-wife (d. 2013) after working at a small family textile company; He is now the world’s sixth-wealthiest person with a net worth of $71 billion.
Nike comes in third place. The Oregon-based company, which was founded in 1964 by college track runner Phil Knight and his coach, initially distributed Japanese running shoes. It found success in sponsoring legendary athletes like Michael Jordan, Roger Federer and Lance Armstrong and is now the world’s largest athletic retailer with annual sales of $35 billion. Knight, who retired as chairman in 2016 after more than 50 years with the company, has amassed a fortune of $32 billion.