The billionaire founder of Europe’s largest shoe retailer, Heinz-Horst Deichmann, has died in Essen, Germany, at the age of 88.
A keen philanthropist who had an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion (€3.3 billion), Deichmann transformed his father’s cobblers business into the best-known footwear seller on in Europe, with estimated sales of $6 billion in 2013.
The billionaire’s 51-year-old son, Henrich Deichmann, has served as the chief executive of Deichmann-Schuhe SE since 1999.
Details of the elder Deichmann’s death were not shared in the statement and he was not known to be in poor health.
Deichmann was born in Essen in 1926 and regularly helped out in the family business. Despite the death of his father in 1940, which left his mother to run the business alone, Deichmann decided to pursue a diploma in medicine.
In 1956 he gave up his orthopaedic practice in order to concentrate on the running of the family business. By 1974 he had opened his 100th store.
Deichmann used his enormous wealth to support a number of charitable organisations, most notably the Christian aid project Wortundtat (word and deed) in India.
The entrepreneur also used his wealth to provide employees with generous wages and benefits.
Today Deichmann-Schuhe SE is active in 24 countries, with about 3,500 shops and 35,000 employees.
He was married to Ruth Fischer, and the pair had four children.