THE other day I had the pleasure of chatting with the director of El Corte Inglés Puerto Banus and before I knew it I was off down memory lane.
You see the store has been very much a part of my life since childhood; my mother would insist on a trip to Malaga every year to buy me something from the best collection of children’s clothes ever (in her esteemed opinion) and must-have gold sandals.
I don’t remember much about the shopping per say, but I do remember those gold sandals and the journey to get them. The trip would typically be a couple of hours to cater for the winding coastal roads and the taxi driver giving us the touristic ‘run around’ in an un-airconditioned car in the middle of August; just to go to a shop!
It was only when I moved to work in Madrid in 1990 that I began to realise how influential a company could be on a national and worldwide scale.
Starting off as bespoke tailors, El Corte Inglés blossomed to offer not only the best selection of national and international products, but with style and a service that truly made the customer feel particularly special; even offering full money back guarantee with no questions asked; unheard of elsewhere at that time.
My first commercial dealings with them came through my company having the rights to introduce one of the first Disney licensed products into Spain which put me directly in contact with two of the most impressive people I’ve had the privilege to meet: Sr Bolaños and Sr Marin, heads of the baby department.
My eldest daughter studied the strategies of the company at University in the USA, such is the reputation of this company; I had the advantage of ‘hands on training’. So much of my expertise is thanks to these gentlemen and the other buyers: always elegantly dressed, extremely polite and overtly proud of the company.
They were fierce in negotiations but fair. They welcomed new suppliers whether they’d buy it or not; it helped keep them up-to-date. I learnt to value the ‘good cop, bad cop’ technique and how wise it is never to be seen to be ‘the boss’. I also learnt that if you have something of worth, stick to your guns.
The power of this company never ceased to amaze me in all respects, including when to start celebrating Christmas: it was as El Corte Inglés lit their lights that the national festivities would begin. All families, mine included, would make at least one day out at the store to really embrace the festive spirit.
This tradition still stands in my family and we’re loving the seasonal market on the first floor in Puerto Banus; enchanting in truly festive tradition and perfect if you’re looking for something Christmassy to do alone, or with the family.
Nicole King’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.