Tributes have been paid to Richard Rotter, widely regarded as the driving force behind Unwins in its heyday.
Richard was joint managing director from 1974 until 2001, when he retired, having spent his entire career with his family business except for two years of National Service. He was also one of the three main shareholders of the company before it was sold in 2005.
He died at his home in Canterbury after suffering from cancer and is survived by his wife Suzie - his former secretary a t Unwins - and sons Dick and Jim, who were also part of the Unwins team.
Richard masterminded the purchase of 72 Davisons wine merchants in 1996, a deal which increased the Unwins estate to 385. But he was not directly involved in the later purchase of the Fuller's off-licences, an acquisition which many believe over stretched the company and created long-term financial problems that led in part to its ultimate demise.
Former Unwins wine buying director Gerald Duff described Richard as "a
110% genuine" person who had devoted his life to building up the business.
"He had a very big influence in driving Unwins forward and expanding it," he said. "His door was always open - even an assistant manager could phone through to him directly and come up and see him. Finance was his forte and he involved himself a lot in that - he was a very precise person.
"In the early 80s he convinced us that EPoS was the way forward and we were the first specialist chain to have it. He had a very long-term vision."
Former marketing director Ian McLernon said: "Richard was the inspiration behind the sucess of Unwins from the 70s. He was a true gentleman who had time for everyone and during the difficult times that Unwins faced
in its final years, Richard's primary concern was the welfare of the employees."
Richard's funeral took place this week.