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Former Next boss Sir David Jones dies, aged 76 | Business

Sir David Jones, the former boss of Next, has died at the age of 76.

He was responsible for turning the chain into a powerhouse of the high street, and guided the current CEO Simon Wolfson when he was Jones’s assistant during the 1990s.

Next said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that Next records the passing of its former chairman and chief executive Sir David Jones CBE over the weekend.

“David will be remembered by many of his colleagues as the man whose courage, good sense, kindness and hard work navigated the company through its most demanding moments in the late 1980s until his retirement in 2006.

“David was a true friend of Next and our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Jones, who also had board positions at Morrisons and JJB Sports, had been in poor health in recent years, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 39, something he kept secret until 2001.

He joined Next from the Grattan catalogue business in 1986 and was made chief executive two years later following the ousting of the company’s founder George Davies.

Next was on the brink of collapse, but Jones turned its fortunes around, making it the third-biggest fashion chain in the UK behind Marks & Spencer and Arcadia’s portfolio of retailers. It has since overtaken them to become the biggest.

He took over as chairman in 2002, appointing his former assistant Lord Wolfson as his successor – making him the youngest FTSE 100 chief executive at the time.

Lord Wolfson said of Jones at the time of his appointment: “His blend of common sense, financial prudence and personal warmth has been an inspiration to all of those who have worked for him.

“His achievements have been all the more remarkable, given the ever-increasing physical burden of Parkinson’s disease.”

Following his departure from Next in 2006, he joined Morrisons supermarket on the board, where he attempted to improve corporate governance with the appointments of non-executives following a disastrous takeover of its rival Safeway.

He joined JJB Sports as executive chairman in 2009, but this role ended with his trial in 2013 when he was accused of forging a bank statement to disguise the fact that he had borrowed £1.5m from the company’s founder, Dave Whelan. His trial was abandoned in 2014 because of his ill health.

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