Retailers have paid tribute to David Quayle, the co-founder and the ‘Q’ behind B&Q, who has died, aged 73.

Quayle, who died of a suspected heart attack, started up the business in 1969 with co-founder and brother-in-law Richard Block. They opened their first store in Southampton, under the name Block and Quayle initially.

The concept revolutionised DIY retailing, by putting a wide range of products under one roof.

Geoff Mulcahy, who created Kingfisher, which now owns B&Q, said: “He had what is so rare in lots of retail businesses now, and that is ideas and imagination. The number of people who can come up with ideas and then have the courage and ability to put them in place is very few.”

Former B&Q boss Jim Hodkinson was hired by Quayle to run its fourth store.

He said he was “bewildered” when he first met Quayle, who wore trainers and was sporting long hair, and suggested finishing off the interview in the pub. “He was a great guy. For an ideas man, there wasn’t anybody better. He’ll be sadly missed.”

Philanthropist Quayle was born in 1936 and joined the RAF before working at Tyrrell & Green, the John Lewis Partnership store in Southampton. He then joined tiles retailer Marley before setting up B&Q.

It was during his time at Tyrrell & Green he was inspired to share profits with his staff at B&Q. This philanthropy would extend further, with Quayle setting up charitable organisation the Tramman Trust.

Even though he dropped out of Brighton College of Art, his love of art always remained. “If he could stop off at a gallery on the way to a store he would,” said Hodkinson.

After he had sold B&Q, he set up video rental chain Cityvision, which he later sold onto Blockbuster.

Ian Cheshire, chief executive of B&Q owner Kingfisher, said that Quayle was a “true entrepreneur” who created a “genuinely new retail concept”.

B&Q and Kingfisher UK chief executive Euan Sutherland called him an “inspirational man”.