PARIS — Bernard Marionnaud, who founded the Marionnaud perfumery chain in 1972, died here Wednesday at the age of 81.

The cause was cancer, said his biographer Sylvie Nordheim.

The perfumery bearing his name said in a statement that it “wishes to show its respect toward the precursor to selective perfumery in France.”

“I would like to offer my condolences to all who hold him in memory,” stated Eileen Yeo, chief executive officer of Marionnaud, which has been owned by Hutchison Whampoa Group Ltd. since 2005.

The Fédération Française de la Parfumerie Sélective (FFPS) called the executive, whose education was cut short in wartime, an “autodidact.”

“He was passionate from a very young age for beauty, which he democratized, and became the first French discounter in the perfumery sector,” stated the federation.

“Bernard Marionnaud was a precursor who had the idea of creating a store where a woman could find everything necessary for beauty,” stated William G. Koeberlé, president of the FFPS and Fédération Européenne des Parfumeurs Détaillants.

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“He was revolutionary,” said Nordheim, who published a book on Marionnaud in 2012 called “Un Homme au Parfum” (or “A Man of Perfume”).

By 1996, when he sold the chain to Marcel Frydman, Marionnaud had built the company into a network of 48 stores.

“Just as with the recent passing of Marcel Frydman [in April], a new page turns in the history of perfumery,” stated Koeberlé.

After leaving Marionnaud, its founder continued running the perfumery store his parents created in Clamart, a Paris suburb, in 1958, and he fought against counterfeiting, according to Nordheim.

Marionnaud also reportedly dabbled in politics with a right-leaning bent.

The perfumery chain specified in its statement that Marionnaud had no more operational link with the company after 1996 and that it “always took care to dissociate itself from public position-taking, such as the political engagement by its founders, Bernard Marionnaud and Marcel Frydman.”

Marionnaud is survived by three children. His funeral service will be held on Monday at 3 p.m. at the Église Saint-Joseph-des-Carmes in Clamart.

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