Sir Ken Morrison rounded off 55 years at the supermarket chain Morrisons today by announcing a 66% hike in annual profits to £612 million.
The chairman, who retires today from the family firm that he joined in 1952, said it gave him "particular pleasure" to report the record profits haul. It comes after the group saw like-for-like sales grow by 4.6%, excluding fuel, last year.
Sir Ken's successor, Sir Ian Gibson, promoted today from deputy chairman to non-executive chairman, paid tribute to an "inspirational and dedicated" leader. He said: "Sir Ken is a consummate retailer and his achievements are remarkable.
"His wholehearted devotion and strength of purpose over five decades have taken Morrisons from modest beginnings to national household name.
"A creator and builder with great passion and flair, his contribution to retailing has been invaluable and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his life's work."
Sir Ken has accepted the role of honorary president at Morrisons. He stepped down from the day-to-day running of Morrisons in 2005, but has since remained chairman.
Sir Ken - who with his family remains the biggest shareholder in the business with a 15% stake - has helped transform Morrisons from a small market trader into the UK's fourth biggest supermarket.
Under his leadership, the company opened its first supermarket in Bradford in 1958 and led the company on to the stock market in 1967, with Morrisons joining the blue-chip ranks of the FTSE 100 Index in 2001.