Isidoro Alvarez, the head of Spain's El Corte Ingles department store chain who turned the company into an international business with an annual turnover of around 14 billion euros ($18 billion), has died. He was 79.

Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos expressed his regret at Alvarez's death in Madrid on Sunday, describing him in a statement as "one of our country's greatest entrepreneurs."

Alvarez worked at El Corte Ingles for 60 years and for the past 25 years was its chairman. Under his leadership, the El Corte Ingles clothing store diversified and expanded abroad.

No cause of death was given, though Alvarez was hospitalized last week with respiratory problems.

No information about surviving family or funeral arrangements was immediately available.