Thomas Bata (pictured), owner of the family-owned Bata Shoe Organization, has died aged 93 in Toronto, Canada, where the business is based.
BSO is one of the world's leading footwear retailers and manufacturers with operations across five continents. It produces millions of its own-brand of shoes in facilities located around the world.
The company operates 5,000 retail stores, employs more than 40,000 people and serves one million customers per day. It had revenues of nearly $200 million last year.
Bata's cobbler father, Tomas Bata, started his shoe-making operations under the Bata name in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, in 1894. A ninth-generation cobbler, Tomas successfully turned his small shoe company into a global business before he died in an air crash in 1932.
Bata consequently took over the company, but had to abandon the business and flee to Canada in 1938 following the start of the Second World War and the accession of communism.
He then guided the company's operations from the 1940s to the late 1980s. He personally contributed to his field by being a leading exponent of computer technology for shoe designing.
In 1998, Bata established Thomas Bata Foundation and entrusted his daughter Monika to manage it. Donations of funds and shoes from the Bata family have also helped to build the world's largest shoe museum in Toronto.
His son, Thomas George Bata, became chairman of the 114-year-old company in 2001.