The John Lewis Partnership was last week mourning the death of Sir Bernard Miller, who devoted his working life to shaping its unique business model.
Sir Bernard, who died on February 23 aged 98, took the helm from John Spedan Lewis.
He helped steer the group through dire economic straits, the bombing of its West End store during the Blitz and the galloping inflation that preceded the Korean conflict.
His 17 years as chairman, from 1955, were a vital period of consolidation during which turnover grew from£28 million to£140 million.
John Lewis chairman Sir Stuart Hampson described Sir Bernard as one of the 'inner circle' of gifted individuals who had worked with John Spedan Lewis.
He said: 'He was a practical administrator, who had the capability to convert theories into commercial and democratic reality. I saw his unfailing courtesy and shy reserve, but also the sharp intellect that could be turned to grill me on trading.'