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  1. ITV Report

Driving force behind Morrisons supermarket Sir Ken Morrison dies

Sir Ken Morrison, who was instrumental in growing the Bradford-based supermarket Morrisons into one of the UK's largest retailers, has died aged 85 following a short illness, his family have said.

A statement from Sir Ken's family said he died peacefully at home in North Yorkshire.

Sir Ken was, of course, a unique figure in the history of grocery retailing in the UK, for more than half a century being the driving force at the heart of Morrisons as it grew from two market stalls to become one of the UK's largest retailers.

But to us he was a greatly committed and loving family man, as inspirational and central to us in our daily lives as he was in the business. His drive and ambition, quick intelligence and encyclopaedic knowledge were matched with a real curiosity in his fellow man.

He had a gentle humour and kindness about him and he could, and would, talk with genuine interest to anyone. He showed us all the importance of aiming high but never forgetting the practicalities of life and the humanity of those we deal with.

A proud Yorkshireman, he never forgot his roots and had a real love for, and commitment to, the people and city of Bradford.

We will all miss him enormously. There will be a private funeral for close family only. At a later date there will also be a public occasion to celebrate Sir Ken's life.

In the meantime, we will make no further comment and ask that our privacy be respected at this very sad time.

– Family statement

Sir Ken, who was one of Yorkshire's richest men, stood down as chairman and chief executive of Morrisons in 2008.

The Yorkshireman joined Morrisons when he finished National Service in 1952 and just four years later became chairman and managing director, although he relinquished the latter role in 1997.

His association with the company started before the Second World War, however, when, aged nine, he helped his father on his Bradford market stall.

It was under Sir Ken's leadership that Morrisons opened its first town-centre shop in 1958 and first supermarket in 1961, both in Bradford.

In 1967 he led the company on to the stock market in London in a share offer which was 174 times oversubscribed as more than 80,000 investors tried to buy a stake.

Expansion across the North of England continued and in 1998 Morrisons opened its first store in the South - in Erith, Kent - before opening its 100th store in its centenary year in 1999.