Business over Tapas September 24 2020

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners

By Lenox Napier¹


‘Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening’.

Coco Chanel 1883-1971

The local news is that the big Zara fashion store has pulled out of the Almería high street. The same company owns Pull & Bear who said this week that they, too, are closing their local store forthwith. This is all very sad (especially since, after twenty years of dithering, El Corte Inglés finally announced this week that they aren’t going to put a superstore in the provincial capital after all). Indeed, the main street, known as El Paseo de Almería, is increasingly bare, with even the banks which have lined it for the past couple of decades speedily merging and closing branches (and, needless to add, dismissing staff).

Zara and its sisters – Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterqüe, Lefties and Stradivarius are increasingly moving their business online. Less employees, lower costs and easier to run. The man behind the company (Wiki) that owns the different fashion chains (plus a gigantic real estate portfolio) is known for being the sometimes wealthiest man in the world (October 2015) – he’s currently sixth – and also as the wealthiest man in Spain, with 58,685 million euros reportedly stashed under the mattress. The second wealthiest person in Spain is his daughter Sandra (Wiki) with 5,700 million euros to her name. The Mercadona owner Juan Roig is third.

The Spanish are a bit ambivalent about Amancio Ortega. He makes his money with hard work (having started out at 14 sewing in a clothes store in La Coruña) and good accounting skills. His clothes are made in third world sweat factories and his taxes are said to be cleverly handled (oh, to be a millionaire!). He does, however, feed something back to the public in the shape of occasional philanthropic donations to hospitals.

But, is it healthy to be so wealthy? A man who makes more in an hour than the rest of us in a lifetime and yet lives quietly with his second wife in an apartment in La Coruña?

A major part of that wealth comes from demand for his products. We love to shop in his stores (or virtually on his web-pages). We will happily pay more for his branded products.

Another Spanish clothing manufacturer of interest (at least to BoT), located at the other end of the spectrum, is called Minimalism. It’s described as ‘…the Spanish brand that opposes the textile industry: clothing without logos, «made to last», with organic fabrics and transparent costs’. The dowdy but well-made clothes are prepared in Guimaraes, Portugal (rather than Bangladesh). They say: ‘Don’t buy what you don’t need’.

Their webpage (in English) is here.

On balance, Coco Chanel probably wouldn’t have liked them.


From Idealista (in English) here: ‘Why Spain is one of the best countries in the world for expats’. It delves into six subjects: the quality of life; the cost of living; the culture; social life; property and healthcare.

El País in English has this: ‘Fearing new coronavirus lockdown, Spaniards look for bigger homes outside of the city. The prospect of another few months of confinement as well as the shift to remote working are driving the market for more spacious properties in more remote areas’.


‘A new Brexit media campaign will warn travellers planning a trip to Europe next year they may need to take out “comprehensive” travel insurance and secure an international driving licence. Ministers have launched the new advertising blitz to remind Brits travelling to the Continent they will need to check changes to rules around their passports, insurance, mobile phone charges and pet travel once the UK leaves the transition period in January…’. Ah, it’ll be fun. Item from iNews here.

‘The Junta de Andalucía will underwrite 25% of the bill to Andalusians who practice tourism within the region. The hotel-stay needs to be of at least three days and it must be contracted through travel agencies who are members of Andalucía Segura’. ABC has the story here. The article says the offer is good for three separate breaks between now and May 31st next year and is open to all those registered on the padrón.

From the Sur in English comes ‘Costa del Sol hotels close en masse with no reopening date on the horizon. Hoteliers predict that only 20 per cent of the Costa’s establishments will be open this winter, as many local icons close for the season for the first time ever’.


‘The Government cancels the Imserso trips for this season. It says that it would not be responsible to mobilize thousands of elderly people during the next few weeks, although the hoteliers are strongly against this decision due to its economic impact’. Item from Hoy here.


From Finances Herald here. ‘Spanish banks CaixaBank and Bankia have approved their merger, which will create the country’s largest lender amid accelerating mergers among European financial institutions. … The biggest banking deal in Spain in two decades is another sign that the long-awaited consolidation in the financial sector in Europe is starting to happen. Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo is acquiring local rival Unione di Banche Italiane and Spain’s Banco de Sabadell is exploring strategic options, including selling, merging, or buying a smaller competitor…’. The BBVA might be interested in taking over the Sabadell, says El Economista here, but it would pay a steep price.

‘The collective dismissals (ERE) expected at Caixabank after the merger with Bankia will raise bank layoffs across Spain to around 130,000 in the last 12 years, that is, since the global financial crisis broke out. The result will be that the sector in Spain will have lost about half of the employees it had in 2008, according to the latest calculations’. The story is at Economia Digital here.

‘Fear of job-loss triggers savings and delays recovery’. From El Confidencial here, we read ‘This precautionary effect is behind an unprecedented increase in the amount put aside as savings, according to the European Central Bank, who say that this will delay recovery’.

From El Economista here: ‘…Spain has not managed to stop the Covid, being, in addition, one of the most vulnerable economies in Europe to a pandemic due to the composition of the productive fabric. The strong weight of the hotel industry, tourism, leisure, transport and so on in the national GDP is behind the great fall in activity compared to the rest of Europe. The Fundación de las Cajas de Ahorros (savings banks foundation) this week lowered their forecast of a fall in GDP for this year by 3.2 percentage points, to 13%, due to the greater number of infections and its deterrent effect on the arrival of tourists and the impact on the confidence of national consumers…’.

From The Mail Online comes ‘Tens of thousands of British expats in Europe ‘will be stripped of their UK bank accounts and credit cards in weeks after government failed to negotiate post-Brexit rules’. We have heard of various Britons here in Spain finding their Brit bank cards are no longer working.

Working from home, teletrabajo, now has rules and rights. El Huff Post has the lowdown.


The latest poll from the CIS shows the PSOE and UP static, the PP down and C’s up says here (with graphic).

Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo and her video media has become a new front in the opposition to Pablo Casado. The ex-spokesperson for the PP has created a YouTube channel with which she attacks the leadership of her party and receives the support of like-minded journalists including Jiménez Losantos (video here). here. Her YouTube channel is called Catalinarias, and here’s a short one of hers focusing on the pesky nationalists.

The high coronavirus infection in the Madrid region is down to delinquents, squatters and underage foreigners says the regional leader apparently. Público calls her ‘Isabel Díaz Le Pen’ here. With this in mind, the Madrid president is going to ask the National Government to ‘send in the army’ on Thursday for logistic help, plus an extra 222 Guardia Civiles to help monitor the quarantines imposed in certain parts of the city says El Mundo.

From El Mundo here: ‘Felipe González believes that Pablo Iglesias’ positions are «stupid» and will lead to «the self-destruction of Spain»’. The article begins ‘The Former President Felipe González believes that Pablo Iglesias’ positions from the Second Vice-presidency are not merely mistaken, but are simple «stupidity», while he harshly criticized Pedro Sánchez’s budget negotiation for not giving specific figures and in considering agreements with those who do not want Spain to continue as a national project (that’s to say, the Catalonians). «When I say something negative about this Government, they consider me as an opponent. Well, it is difficult to oppose something what does not exist,» said the former socialist leader, (referring to the unpublished numbers from the still-unapproved budget)…’.


‘How will Brexit affect Neighbouring Spain? Junta de Andalucía Brexit Offices Explains. The Brexit Offices in La Línea and Algeciras are guiding individuals and companies on possible post-Brexit scenarios. Questions on pensions, employment, transit through the frontier have dominated…’. Item from Reach here.

The Coronavirus:

Spain has created ‘Convat’, a test for diagnosing Covid-19 which produces accurate results in less than 30 minutes, thanks to research funding into the virus from the European Commission. According to project manager Laura Lechuga, the devices ‘do not need technicians or laboratories’ and can be used in local GP practices, in A&E, and even in high-street pharmacies…’. Item at Think Spain here.

‘Spain, at the head in infections and deaths in Europe and at the tail in the measures against the second wave’ says (with a map) here.

The Madrid health situation is in collapse, says El Español here (Tuesday).

Corona-quarantine is to be reduced from 14 to 10 days across Spain in certain conditions (already law in Catalonia). El Huff Post has the story here.

Amazing! Spain has 2,000 unemployed doctors and similarly 3,000 nurses without a job says El Independiente here.

‘All the enormous sacrifice that society made to lower the Covid-19 curve began to fade when it was thought that a summer of giving oxygen to the economy could not be lost even with the health risk’. Opinion from here.

Life expectancy in Spain has fallen by a year says VoxPópuli, blaming the coronavirus.


‘The judge imputes former minister Jorge Fernández Díaz for spying on Bárcenas’. VozPópuli says that ‘The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has requested his appearance to explain his part as the leader of ‘Operation Kitchen’, which was carried out by the Ministry of the Interior between 2013 and 2015’.

An editorial from El Periodico on the subject of the PP’s attempts to destroy proof of corruption is titled ‘Either mafia behaviour will end now, or the mafia will end democracy’.

‘Pablo Iglesias, after hearing of the accusation of Fernández Díaz: «The sewer organized by the PP is one of the greatest shames of democracy». The vice-president points out that Pablo Casado: «…was deputy secretary general of Communication of the PP at the time and he defamed Podemos with the manipulated reports from the police». Noticias de Navarra has the story here.

Then there’s the Caja B, the second set of books, from the Almería PP (2003 to 2008), now (finally) coming to light. El Confidencial has the story here. (Well-known locally).

From BBC News here ‘The FinCEN Files: All you need to know about the documents leak’.

A Ponzi-scheme has netted 30,000 victims. The scheme was called ‘Community Bot’ (no relation, Ed!) and was run out of a company called Arbistar 2.0 based in Tenerife. Tulip Reseach puts the amount defrauded at 850,000,000€. The sorry story at here.


A Special Report from here: ‘The monopoly of the PP in the Supreme Court: 25 years of blockades to control Justice’. The article begins: ‘The three blockades of the PP in the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary have served for the conservatives to decide most of the appointments of judges in the Supreme Court. In 1995, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, the court that sentences on corruption cases, was made up of 13 judges: seven progressives, six conservatives. In 2020, there are eleven conservatives versus two progressives’. (The General Council of the Judiciary is the constitutional body that governs all the Judiciary of Spain, such as courts, and judges. It should be renewed every five years by a parliamentary majority). American readers take note!

The Lieutenant Attorney of the Supreme Court complains that there are «ideologically contaminated» prosecutors who have tried to influence him. The prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Luis Navajas, defends himself on Onda Cero Radio (here) of the criticisms he has received for having requested the closure of sundry complaints filed against the Government for its management in the pandemic without having convened the full Board of Prosecutors and complains that two of the prosecutors had tried to influence his report. The suitably conservative El Mundo (paywall) says ‘Commotion in the Prosecutor’s Office over the accusations of the prosecutor Navajas: «It transmits a terrible image of maximum politicization and factions»’.

Later, ‘The Attorney General’s Office opens an internal investigation for the alleged pressure on Navajas over the complaints against the Government’ says here.


José Felix Tezanos, the president of the CIS pollsters, refuses to pose a question about the Monarchy in his regular opinion survey: «It is yellowish. It is neither of interest nor concern» he says stoutly on TV. «The CIS is not there to ask about people’s problems. I am not going to do tabloid science, I am going to stick to important issues,» he said’. The item comes from El Español here. In reaction to this, Público, indignant, together with a number of sympathetic media partners are to make their own survey on the subject: monarchy or republic, with 3,000 interviews to be published in mid-October.

How to make a news item sound like it’s about Spain: ‘Travel to Spain’s Costa del Sol Malaga Airport Held Up By Bomb’. The bomb in question, dating from WWII, was unearthed recently outside the airport in the British city of Bristol, but, yes, they do fly to Spain among other destinations… The source for this, er, scoop is Global247News here. waxes indignant about those news-sources that look the other way while Julian Assange is being keelhauled in a London court for practicing journalism.


From Ecologistas en Acción here: El Pinar de Barbate (Cádiz) is located in an environment of high ecological and landscape value, such as the Natural Park of La Breña and the Marismas de Barbate. This pinar (pine forest) is at risk of urbanization. It was publicly owned, but was privatized and ruled urbanisable in a local PGOU in 1995. Now they want to build 430 houses there (with video).

‘The accelerated disappearance of ice in the Arctic multiplies storms or droughts such as those that affect Spain. The extent of sea ice has just marked its annual minimum, which has been the second lowest on record: the loss of ice alters the climate of the entire northern hemisphere of the Earth’. Thus,


The Telegraph (paywall) here: ‘Greed is the wrecking-ball that has left the Spanish monarchy teetering on the edge’. The article (according to Radio Cable here), says that ‘…when the sins of royalty are due to «lust» (i.e. girlfriends) it is easier for people to sympathize with them, but when the vice in question is «greed», the matter becomes really harmful because it «compromises the professional integrity of a king” even for the most ardent monarchists…’.

El Español has this: ‘Sandra Mozarowsky, another lover for Juan Carlos: why her death is news 43 years later. The young actress, who was related to the emeritus, died when she fell from a fourth floor, aged 18 and five months pregnant’.

‘In Almería’s vast farms, migrants pick food destined for UK supermarkets. But these ‘essential workers’ live in shantytowns and lack protective equipment as Covid cases soar’. The story with video from ‘’We pick your food’: migrant workers speak out from Spain’s ‘Plastic Sea’ comes from The Guardian here.

Renfe‘s rival will start its low cost AVE in March 2021 with aggressive offers. France’s SNCF, through its OuiGo brand, seeks to break the market with offers of up to 50% lower than current prices. The Madrid-Barcelona line will be the first, with five round trips daily’. The news comes from La Información here.

The orca attacks against boats off the coast of Galicia have become a problem now. The Government has ruled that sailing boats under 15m long are banned from the waters between Cabo Prioriño Grande and la Punta de Estaca de Bares during the rest of September. Ministerial press release here.

Orange has launched its 5G network in Spain in a bid to compete with Vodafone and with national telecommunications giant Telefónica, and has announced access to the new network will be included in all customer tariffs with no change to current prices. At present, 5G via Orange is only available in the cities of Valencia, Seville, Málaga, Barcelona and Madrid, and is expected to reach about 30% of its clients in each of these…’. From Think Spain.

Colin Davies (blog) is reminded of an observation by the travel writer Richard Ford (Wiki) in 1845, ‘…on something I’ve cited several times over the years – Localism: From the earliest period down to the present all observers have been struck with this as a salient feature in the character of the Iberians, who never would amalgamate; never would, as Strabo said, put their shields together; never would sacrifice their own local private interest for the general good’. So true.

See Spain:

National Geographic (castellano) takes us to Cáceres here.

The village of Romangordo in Cáceres is an oddity. The town hall decided in 2016 the whole place needed a lick of paint…The story is here at Estate un Rato.


Triana (Wiki) was one of the great Flamenco-rock groups of the seventies, here’s a documentary about them on YouTube. And here they are with Abre la Puerta Niña.

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Licenciado en Filosofía y Letras, Magisterio y Estudios en la Escuela Oficial de Periodismo de Madrid. Residente 40 años en Francia, Reino Unido e Irlanda como profesor de español. En Irlanda fundó el Centró Español de Documentación y el Instituto Cultural Español, actual Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. Asímismo, fue corresponsal de: Agencia EFE, Diario Informaciones, Carta de España, Crónicas de la Emigración, España Exterior, La Región Internacional y Escuela Española. Jubilado.

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