Ward joins Apax as partner

Private equity firm Apax Partners has appointed Michael Ward, the former chief executive of UK pharmacy chain Lloyds Chemists, as a partner in its London office.

Michael Ward, the former Lloyds Chemists boss, has been appointed to the 22-strong retail and consumer team at private equity firm Apax Partners.

While at Lloyds Chemists Ward was responsible for developing the firm’s health retailer Holland & Barrett, which was acquired for £5 million in 1991 and then sold to NBTY, the American maker and distributor of nutritional supplements, for £100 million in 1997.

Following Lloyds Chemists’ acquisition by German healthcare group Celesio in 1997, Ward became Celesio’s chief executive of retail and oversaw £250 million worth of corporate disposals in six months. Over the last three years, he has been focusing on building Celesio’s presence in Norway.

“We are increasingly active in the retail and consumer sector and Michael’s operational and management experience will be a valuable addition to our existing team,” said Martin Halusa, who replaced Ronald Cohen as chief executive of Apax at the beginning of the year.

Ward said the surge of recent deal activity in the retail sector was set to continue, with the emergence of “winners and losers” from the Christmas trading period. Apax’ previous investments in the sector include Calvin Klein, Focus Wickes and Silverscreen Holdings.