Christopher Foyle, former chairman of Foyles bookshops, has died at the age of 79. He had been suffering from leukemia.

Foyles, now part of Waterstones, paid tribute on social media: "Christopher's vision inspired the Foyles of today: after taking the helm in 1999, he modernised the business, opening new branches, and was instrumental in creating the magnificent new Foyles flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road which opened in 2014. Christopher Foyle was an affable and regular visitor to the bookshop who had plenty of stories to share and made time for everyone. He loved unusual words, which he collected in the two-volume Foyle's Philavery. Our thoughts are with his family."

Foyle took control of the family business, established in 1903 by his grandfather William and great uncle Gilbert, relatively late in life in 1999, having built up a successful airline freight operation. With fellow family member Bill Samuel and others he set about transforming a business that had languished under thelong and eccentric rule of his aunt, Christina. Foyles grew into a chain of London shops, and the new Charing Cross Road flagship, a stone's throw from the dusty and bizarrely arranged emporium over which Christina had presided, was worthy of the fame that the Foyles brand had somehow preserved.