El Corte Inglés is a big department store chain similar in some ways to the John Lewis shops in the UK. Apparently it is named for a style of tailoring - the English cut - as the founder of the chain originally opened a tailor's shop in Central Madrid in 1934. Despite now being one of the largest companies in Spain it is not quoted on the Stock Exchange and remains in private hands. Apparently several journalists have a clause in their contracts that says they cannot say anything nasty about the chain!
Corte Inglés is something of a retailing phenomenon in Spain and the timing of their advertising campaigns seem to be taken as a marker by other retailers. Their marketing strategy is very aggressive and the shops provoke a remarkable degree of either loyalty or loathing amongst ordinary people. Maggie, for instance, thinks they are overpriced and offer nothing special but I've retained a fondness for the chain from my holidaymaker days in Spain when I found them easy to use - they have long opening hours and with everything on display which did away with the need to ask across the counter as in so many Spanish shops. Nowadays I'm less impressed because when I do ask for help I find that the assistants are often unknowledgeable and quite sharp.
There aren't Corte Inglés shops everywhere. I think all of the Provincial Capitals have one and the largest cities have several - it's another of those times where size really does matter. So Elche City Council must have been well pleased when the chain decided to open a great big new store in their town complete with a Hipercor supermarket.
Doors opened in mid November and Maggie and I went to have a look this weekend. To be honest it was a bit unremarkable.