Apthorp, 69, brought the freezer centre concept to Britain when he founded Bejam in 1968, which 20 years later was taken over by Iceland. He then got together with Tony Mason and Tim How to buy back the wine warehouse chain, Wizard, which Bejam acquired in 1987. The trio then expanded the chain to 30 stores by acquiring Majestic Wine in 1991 and today there are 120 warehouses with sales topping £148m.
“John and I have worked together for 21 years and, particularly with Majestic, have created a very successful business,” said chief executive Tim How.
Simon Burke, previously chairman of Hamleys and chief executive of the Virgin Retail Group, will succeed Apthorp.