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Obituary: The North Face co-founder Douglas Tompkins

Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of outdoor brand The North Face and fashion retailer Esprit, has died following a kayaking accident in Patagonia, Chile.

Tompkins, 72, was taken to a hospital in Coyhaique with severe hypothermia after strong winds capsized his kayak on Lake General Carrea in Patagonia on Tuesday December 8. He died a few hours later in the intensive care unit in Coyhaique Regional Hospital.

The North Face was founded by Tompkins and Kenneth Klopp in San Francisco as a mail order and retail company specialising in rock climbing and camping equipment in 1966. They sold it in 1969 for $50,000 (£33,200) and was eventually acquired by VF Corporation in 2000.

In 1968, Tompkins and his then wife Susie created a young fashion womensear brand, which became Esprit. By 1978 the firm had sales in excess of $100m (£66.4m) a year.

Tompkins retired in 1989, selling his shares of Esprit to Susie, and invested in land conservation in Chile. With his second wife Kristine he bought and preserved over 2 million acres of land throughout South America.

A statement from The North Face said: “Doug was a passionate advocate for the environment. His legacy of conservation will help ensure that there are outdoor spaces to be explored for generations to come.”

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