SUPERMARKET pioneer Edouard Leclerc, the man who founded the E. Leclerc chain, has died at home at the age of 85.
Now with an empire of semi-independent shops including nearly 400 hypermarkets and 130 supermarkets in France plus around 80 stores in the rest of Europe, the company has grown from a single warehouse in Landerneau, Brittany, in 1949.
He and his wife Hélène opened the shop selling biscuits, soap and oil at wholesale prices by cutting out the middleman and getting rid of their margins to keep prices down.
When other traders wanted to do the same he allowed them to set up under his well-known name - and the Leclerc empire soon expanded out of Brittany to cover France.
He promised that he could "cut the cost of living by 20%" but he was accused of killing off small shops.
In 1969, several dozen supermarkets broke away from the cooperative organisation and set up their own supermarket company, called Ex - now Intermarché/Les Mousquetaires.
His son Michel-Edouard took over the company in 2006 and it now has 96,000 staff.
The mairie in Saint-Divy, near Landerneau, said that Edouard Leclerc had died from a heart attack at his home at La Haye.