peter ruis jlp expanded

Source: JLP

Ruis previously spent nine years as chain’s former buying brand director, from 2005 to 2013

John Lewis has boosted its retail credentials with the appointment of a new permanent executive director, as part of a wider reshuffle of its senior team.

Peter Ruis – who previously spent nine years as chain’s former buying brand director – will return to the partnership on 15 January, as the head of the department store business.

Naomi Simcock – who had been interim director since the departure of Pippa Wicks in March – has now been permanently appointed to the new role of operations director, and will take oversight of the John Lewis retail and supply chain. She would work closely with Ruis, the partnership said.

Ruis is seen as an experienced hand, with extensive retail experience. Following his first spell at John Lewis, which ended in 2013, he was appointed MD of the high street and homeware chain Anthropologie. He then spent four years as CEO of the fashion brand Jigsaw, and was most recently CEO of Indigo in Canada.

He has also had spells at M&S, Ted Baker and Levi Strauss.

“It’s a great privilege to return to the John Lewis Partnership after 10 years,” Ruis said. “The John Lewis brand is iconic, loved and trusted by millions of customers across the UK and I’m excited to lead the next phase of the transformation.

“As the biggest employee-owned business in the UK, we have a huge opportunity to make even more of the unique partner difference to provide exceptional products and service for our customers.”

Nish Kankiwala, CEO of the John Lewis Partnership, described Ruis’s return as “fantastic”.

“He has a deep understanding of customers, brands and product from his 30-year career spanning a variety of major high street and online retailers,” he said.

“He also brings a clear and proven passion for the John Lewis brand and the partnership model, and I have no doubt he will be integral to our future success.

“I’d like to extend my enormous thanks to Naomi for her unwavering commitment and leadership of the John Lewis teams and business this past year. Naomi will do a brilliant job leading our retail and supply chain teams, working closely with Peter and the John Lewis leadership team,” he added.

Simcock said she had thoroughly enjoyed her time as interim director, but was now looking forward to “supporting partners and ensuring our department stores and supply chain continue to deliver for our customers”.

JLP to announce ‘retail focused’ strategy

The appointments come as Kankiwala, and departing JLP chairman Sharon White, prepare to launch a new strategy update designed to restart the partnership’s transformation plan.

In an internal update sent in November, and seen by The FT, the pair told partners that the new strategy would focus on fostering a “one retail mindset”, and would centre on four main “pillars”.

It follows what has been sustained public dissatisfaction with the progress and direction of the partnership’s current turnaround strategy, which launched in 2020. Retail experts and partners have criticised senior partners for focusing too heavily on plans to build buy to let homes, rather than on improving the chain’s retail credentials.

Performance had improved of late, but at the latest half-year results in September, White conceded that inflationary pressures meant the timeline for the plan would need to be extended by a further two years, to 2027.

“At the heart of what we want to do, we want to be a brilliant retailer that delights our customer … That is the strategy … and that’s what we’re really going to focus on, day in, day out, everywhere we go,” the November update said, per the FT.

JLP is set to announce its full-year results, and Christmas sales, in March.