French businessman Yves Rocher, 79, founder of a global chain of beauty products and a pioneering advocate of the use of plants and other natural elements in cosmetics, died Saturday in Paris, officials said.

Mr. Rocher is to be buried tomorrow in the Brittany town of La Gacilly, where he was born and where he was mayor from 1962 to 1988, according to the town's Web site.

Inspired by the herbs and plants of his native region, Mr. Rocher founded the chain that bears his name in 1959 as a mail-order company. He transformed it into one of France's best-known beauty brands, with annual sales of $2.88 billion and 2,000 stores worldwide.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a statement, called him "a great French industrialist."

The Groupe Yves Rocher also owns other brands, including the children's apparel company Petit Bateau.

Mr. Rocher's grandson Bris, 31, succeeds him as the company's head, French newspapers reported. - AP