He was the millionaire with a heart of gold, a titan of the British fashion scene who spent as much time giving money away as he did amassing it.

Gerald Weisfeld, who has died aged 79, was the financial brains behind What Every Woman Wants, the chain that rose from a single store in Glasgow’s Argyle Street to become a fixture of the UK high street in the 1970s and 80s.

His enthusiastic staff would sing the company song as they opened up each morning. Comedy legend Billy Connolly even turned up in a horse and cart to declare one store open.

Television adverts were recorded to the tune of Status Quo’s hit Whatever You Want.

Yet behind all the showbiz razzmatazz lay a laser-like commercial brain which could spot a business opportunity in a trendy tank top – and have it on sale in his stores within hours.

Rara skirts were on sale for just £1 a time, with bobby socks for 50p.

Mr Weisfeld’s ability to spot a bargain was shared with thousands, if not millions, of young women who were able to afford London fashion at bargain basement prices.

Truly, he knew what every woman wants. His midas touch was rewarded in 1990 when he and his wife Vera sold the What Every’s business for £50 million, believed to be the highest amount ever paid for a Scottish fashion house.

And within hours of receiving the big cheque, Mr Weisfeld was writing another one – for £10m to be used for charitable causes at home and abroad.

He funded an emergency welfare mission to the former Yugoslavia in 1994, taking food by convoy and setting up a kitchen for refugees in war-torn Bosnia.

Children’s homes were established in Romania, offering refuge to children rejected by society because they were suffering from Aids.

Mr Weisfeld died on Sunday night, after a long battle against Alzheimer’s disease. He was cared for at the Bothwell Castle Care Home and at Summerlee Care Home in Coatbridge, both Lanarkshire.

His wife said yesterday: “My family’s hearts have been broken over the last eight years, witnessing Mr Weisfeld’s mind and body being taken over completely by this cruel and wicked disease.

“For all his abilities, he could do nothing to prevent it.

“I would like to thank the care home staff who looked after him so well, particularly Laurie, who would come in on her day off to make sure he was looking his best.

“The family were all with him on Sunday night when he passed, including Laurie.”

Last year the historic building on Argyle Street that housed their first store was demolished.

The Category B-listed building, which was a popular department store, will be replaced by an office block.

The building, which dated from about 1870, housed the flagship store for What Every Woman Wants, which had 130 shops around the UK at its peak. But it was closed in 2003 following a period of administration.

In September, US financial services giant JPMorgan Chase announced plans to move to a state-of-the-art building on the site vacated by the building.

The £95m 13-storey development, which is expected to accommodate up to 4,000 people, is scheduled to open in 2022.

Mrs Weisfeld made an emotional return to her former workplace before its demolition and said: “It’s the building that everyone is going to miss.”

Mr Weisfeld was born into a Jewish family in London in 1940.

A familiar figure in the fashion warehouses of capital in the 1960s, he built up What Every Woman Wants with Vera, the retail expert who would become his wife.

Yet he was a tycoon with a big heart and often paid for medical treatment for members of staff or their families.

He believed that he would not get the best out of his workers if they were beset by personal troubles. He founded a chair of peace at Tel Aviv University and made financial contributions to a number of universities in Scotland.

Mr Weisfeld passed away peacefully on Sunday night.

He leaves behind his wife, son Michael, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

The fun days of What Every’s are now consigned to Mrs Weisfeld’s memory and a back catalogue of grainy videotapes, showcasing their high-kicking staff belting out the song Who Leads the Fashion Scene in Scotland?