SHE started out with a £200 loan which her bank manager thought was being used to buy a sofa.

It was 1971 and the bank would not lend Cathy Paver the money to start a business.

But two weeks later, he was happy to lend the same sum when said it was to buy a settee.

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Cathy Paver took the money, the bank manager never asked to see the sofa, and she went on to create a business empire that sells four million pairs of shoes every week across the world in 160 eponymous stores on three continents.

But despite her phenomenal success, the maverick businesswoman remained little-known in her native country, although she was always proud of her roots.

Catherine Kinloch Paver, who has died at the age of 88, was one of five children brought up in a working class area of Kirkcaldy, Fife.

She moved to York in 1943 to find work when her parents could no longer afford for her to continue in senior school.

Her first job was helping wounded soldiers in the military hospital in the city, but later moved into retail taking on a role with Boots.

It was around this time she met and subsequently married her husband of 51 years, Michael Paver, and when the Pavers Shoes story began.

The business was founded when Mrs Paver identified a market niche for people with problem feet like her own and started selling sensible shoes.

Initially, she sold from village halls and via house parties before the business spread across the north of England to reach annual sales of more than £60 million.

Pavers opened its first high street shop in Scarborough in 1982 and others, in York, Hull and Newcastle, quickly followed. It opened its first outlet store in North Shields offering footwear at 30 per cent less than normal retail prices.

Many more shops throughout the UK and Ireland have opened since, as did an overseas venture, Pavers England, which is based in Dubai, but operates retail locations throughout the Middle East, India, and Sri Lanka.

But despite this growth the company remains globally headquartered in York.

Over the course of her near 50 year career with Pavers she was frequently recognised as one of the most successful female retailers of her generation.

She won the Draper’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and was recognised alongside Sir James Dyson, Dame Vivienne Westwood, and Victoria Beckham in Management Today’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs in 2015, and again in 2016.

A spokesman for Pavers Shoes said: “Catherine has been described as an outstanding woman of substance who oozed charisma, drive, determination and passion for an industry she loved.

“We will sorely miss Cathy’s wisdom, guile, and ferocious intelligence. However, despite footwear being in her DNA, her first love, and the one she treasured above all other, was for her family. “ “A devoted mother to her three sons, all of whom later joined her in the business, and as a grandmother, and great-grandmother, she considered this element of her life probably her finest work, and in which her spirit will undoubtedly live on.

“Illness and pain never diminished her love for shoes and she was brightest in her last few days when discussing buys for Autumn and winter of 2017.

“She also reminded us how proud she was of her stores and people and how she would be watching to ensure we all continued her legacy in the future.”

She added that Mrs Paver had been surrounded by family, friends and colleagues for the final two weeks of her life.