James Strong, the chairman of NZX-listed retailer Kathmandu and a former chief executive of Qantas, died in Sydney yesterday from lung complications following surgery, according to a statement from his family.
Strong, 68, had chaired Kathmandu since its 2009 listing and led Qantas from 1993 until 2001. Before joining the Australian airline he was chief executive of New Zealand's DB Breweries.
He stepped down as chairman of Aussie supermarket operator Woolworths last year after more than a decade in that role.
In the statement Strong's family said he was a beautiful man and a great loss.
"He will be profoundly missed by many."
Kathmandu director John Harvey, who has been appointed interim chairman of the outdoor apparel and equipment retailer following Strong's death, said Strong played a critical role in the successful float of the company, which had taken place during a difficult period for initial public offerings.
"James' contribution was very important to securing our initial listing ... we have been very fortunate to have been guided by such an esteemed trans-Tasman business leader during our formative and successful first three years as a public company."