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Former GUS chairman Lord Wolfson dies aged 82

Lord Wolfson, the former chairman of now-defunct retail giant Great Universal Stores (GUS) and philanthropist, died last week aged 82.

The fiercely private Leonard Wolfson was a director at the group - which at its height comprised its eponymous home-shopping catalogue business and fashion businesses such as Burberry - for 44 years.

Wolfson followed his father, Sir Isaac, to GUS in 1952. He became managing director 10 years later and took over from Isaac as chairman in 1981 - a role he held until 1996.

Between 1978 and 1996, he was chairman of British luxury brand Burberry, which was the subject of a bold takeover by GUS in 1955. Burberry was demerged from the group in 2005, one year after GUS sold its iconic home-shopping catalogue business to the Barclay brothers.

Wolfson was described as “tough” by those who knew him. Former Next boss Sir David Jones, who worked under him at GUS, described their bittersweet relationship in his book Next to Me: Luck, Leadership and Living with Parkinson’s. He wrote: “We had good times together as well as difficult times. I learned important lessons from both.”

Wolfson, who founded the Wolfson Foundation in 1955 with his parents, invested more than £1bn at current values in a number of good causes during his lifetime.

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