James Gulliver dies aged 66

James Gulliver, one of the leading Scottish businessmen of his generation, died early yesterday morning, aged 66. His death comes 10 years after the Guinness affair which did so much to damage his reputation.

Jimmy Gulliver, a colourful character from Campbletown, Strathclyde, built the Safeway supermarket chain into one of Britain's most successful food retailers in the1980s.

The turning-point in his career came in 1985 when he and his two close colleagues in the Argyll Group, Sir Alistair Grant and David Webster, launched an ambitious bid for Distillers, the Scottish whisky group.

Guinness, then headed by Ernest Saunders, won the bid in a controversial and, later to be proved, illegal manner. Mr Saunders ended up in jail.

During the bid the Guinness camp unearthed the fact that Mr Gulliver's claim to having completed an MBA at Harvard was false. Mr Gulliver lost the trust of his board, and was eased out of Argyll soon after.

The banks subsequently backed him in a pounds 450m bid for Lowndes Queensway, the carpet retailer, but the acquisition went sour with the recession, and he left the company in 1990.

Mr Gulliver was married four times, and maintained a Regency mansion in Edinburgh as well as apartments in Chelsea, Marbella and Cannes.

He was also a director of Manchester United and Heart of Midlothian football clubs.