Thierry Cabanne, founder and chairman of Thierry’s Wine Services, has died in a car accident.

The accident happened in the early hours of Thursday morning. Cabanne was 62.

An anglophile Frenchman, Cabanne came to England in the 1960s and opened a restaurant in London. During this time he saw the rising popularity and widening appeal of wine.

His foresight in seeing the emerging buying power of multiple retailers and specialist chains led him to create Thierry’s Wine Services in 1981, now one of the country’s leading wine brokers.

Friends and colleagues around the world have been paying tribute to the man who built his business up to be the single largest importer of French wines into the UK, importing some 4m cases per year.

‘This is a terrible shock’, said Dominique Vrigneau, buying director for Thierry’s. ‘After 15 years together you never think this can happen. Thierry always said that he wanted to create a business that would survive him and we want to prove him right. Everyone at Thierry’s is deeply sad and will miss him terribly.’

Leadership of Thierry’s Wine Services continues under Ged Welch as managing director and Hatim Dungarwalla as finance director, supported by the executive team Dominique Vrigneau, Lindsay Talas, and Matt Dickinson.

Written by Lucy Shaw