The Spanish Language Blog

The Spanish Bijenkorf, that's how we could call this Spanish department store chain. El Corte Inglés is one of the world leaders in department stores and has been around for more than 70 years. As small as they started in the late 19th century, they are now so big. El Corte Inglés has everything from makeup to a hand blender and from a can of beans to a stylish outfit.

  • Since its founding in 1940, the department store has accumulated a lot of experience and you can find almost anything you need. The literal translation of El Corte Inglés into Dutch is De Engelse Snit.
  • Besides the department stores, the Spanish distribution group El Corte Inglés also has other chains, including "Viajes Corte Inglés" and the well-known Sfera. Some of these chain are located only in El Corte Inglés itself, while others also have their own branches.
  • With 87 branches of El Corte Inglés in total, the department store is not to be missed. Every city in Spain has one anyway and they are all located in a prominent place in the city. The department store now also has 2 branches in Portugal.

The first Corte Inglés

It all started with a small store on the corner of the street "Calle Preciados" in Madrid in 1890, founded by Ramón Areces. The store focused on clothing for children and tailoring. Only in 1940 was it officially named El Corte Inglés S.L., which in 1952 was transformed into Sociedad Anónima, S.A. (Limited Liability Company). Still, it took another 22 years before the second branch was opened. In 1962, El Corte Inglés also decided to overthrow Barcelona with this new type of store, and it caught on. In no time, new department stores sprang up in several cities in Spain. The goal was and still is to offer the target group a complete assortment in every area: from physical care and fashion to home accessories and groceries. 

It is not for nothing, therefore, that the department stores of El Corte Inglés all have more than 4 floors. The largest have 9 floors and even include a parking garage and foreign currency exchange offices.Pharmacies, chop shops, opticians, tobacconists, clothing stores or a supermarket; you name it, El Corte Inglés has it. All to give customers everything they need. Recently, the department store came up with a method that allows customers to store on all floors without having to checkout at each brand individually. The Carta de Compras booklet allows customers to checkout all their items at once through a sticker system.

El Corte Inglés department store sells many brands through a kind of store-in-store system. Makeup brands such as L'Oreal Paris and Maybelline New York, for example, have their own department with their own cash register and representative to sell the brand. The same happens with clothing brands and stores that sell their products in El Corte Inglés. For example, Desigual, Mango and Tommy Hilfiger also have their own departments. In addition to the various brands that El Corte Inglés sells, it also has its own brand. The most famous is probably "Sfera," a brand that sells not only clothes, but also makeup and body care products and has its own branches in addition to departments in the department store. There are also the Telecor (telecommunications) chain, Hipercor (hypermarket chain), Supercor (supermarket chain), Opencor (convenience stores), Viajes Corte Inglés (travel), Bricor (hardware stores), Informática Corte Inglés (software)and Óptica2000 (Opticians and audiciens).

With 87 branches in total, El Corte Inglés is the largest group of department stores in Europe. As of 2001, it also has 2 branches in Portugal: Lisbon and Porto (2006). In Spain, every autonomous region has at least one branch of El Corte Inglés, except the autonomous region of La Rioja. Almost every city in Spain owns the crowd-pleaser. Major Spanish cities even have two or three. Spain's largest cities, of course, have quite a few more: Madrid leads the way with as many as 11 Corte Inglés department stores, followed by Barcelona (5) and Valencia (4). The El Corte Inglés department stores are fun to look around alone, so definitely worth a visit!

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