Collins joined the John Lewis Partnership graduate programme in 1993, and went on to manage several John Lewis stores before joining Waitrose.
He has been e-commerce director since 2007 and has firmly established it as a key growth stream for the retailer, with 80% year-on-year growth at WaitroseDeliver.
He takes up his new role in April, reporting to MD Mark Price. "The combination of Rob's success in driving our online business with his strong retail experience and people skills makes him the perfect person to take on this important role," said Price.
Collins is the son of Sir John Collins, whose former roles include chairman of DSG, chief executive of the Vestey Group, chairman of National Power and chairman and chief executive of Shell UK.