Sir Ken Morrison, who made his father's Morrisons grocery chain into a supermarket giant, has died, the Press Association reported this morning.
He passed away aged 85 after a short illness, his family said.
Morrison took over his father's Bradford egg and butter stall, turning it into one of the UK's big four supermarkets within 50 years.
Having opened his first supermarket in 1961, Morrison floated the company in 1968. In 2004, it acquired Safeway.
He was Morrisons chairman until 2008. In 1990 Morrison was awarded the CBE and he was knighted in the Millennium New Year's Honours list for his services to the food retailing industry.
The supermarket said today: "Sir Ken was an inspirational retailer who led Morrisons for more than half a century, transforming the company from a small family business into the UK's fourth largest food retailer.
"Sir Ken will be greatly missed by many thousands of his current and former colleagues, a large number of whom became close personal friends over the years."
Widely considered one of Britain's finest retailers, Sir Ken developed the culture, values and clear direction for the business which remain the bedrock of the firm today. His legacy includes many enduring innovations, such as Market Street and Morrisons' unique vertical integration model.
Andrew Higginson, the current chairman of Morrisons, said: "I know that I speak for the whole company when I say how profoundly sad we were to hear of Sir Ken's death. He was an inspirational leader and the driving force behind Morrisons for over half a century. Although he retired several years ago, his legacy is evident every day and in every aspect of our business.
"Taking Morrisons from a small Bradford-based family business to a major UK grocery retailing chain is an outstanding achievement in the history of UK business. On a personal level, Ken was an enormous help to me as we made some significant changes to set the business on a new course; his knowledge of retail and his strategic insights have remained as relevant and intuitive as they were when he first built the business.
"Ken will be remembered by us all for his leadership, his passion for retailing and for his great love of Morrisons. To honour his memory in the most appropriate way we can, we will continue to develop the company that he built and loved.
"We will miss his friendship and his wise counsel very deeply, and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."
Simon Hinchliffe, headmaster of Morrison's old school, Bradford Grammar School, said: “It is with great sadness that we learnt today about the death of Sir Ken Morrison, former pupil and lifelong supporter of Bradford Grammar School. Sir Ken was an inspirational figure, a Yorkshireman of great integrity, humanity and a model of honest good sense.
"More than anyone Sir Ken embodied our motto, Hoc Age, to get on and do it."