Keith Wills, one of the leading retail analysts of his generation and long-standing contributor to Retail Week, has died after a long illness.

Wills was best known as head of the European retail team at Goldman Sachs, where he spent 15 years and was managing director before becoming a consultant.

Ambrian analyst Philip Dorgan, who knew Wills for more than 20 years, described him as “a fantastic colleague and friend”. He said: “He was a great stock picker, a great racing man and, unfortunately, an avid Man United fan – it was about the only thing that we didn’t agree on. He knew retail inside out.”

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb worked with Wills in the 1980s at Scrimgeour’s. He said: “He was calm, reliable, very sensible and he wrote very well, particularly on clothing retailers. I have fond memories of his love of retailing and horse racing. He will be sadly missed.”

Former Goldman colleague Christian Koefoed-Nielsen said: “Keith understood the clothing market thoroughly – better than some of the companies themselves.”

Former Kingfisher chief executive Sir Geoff Mulcahy said: “He was one of the best analysts on the patch – extraordinarily knowledgeable.”

Wills is survived by his wife Averil and sons George and Jack.