John Lewis Partnership’s customer experience director Peter Cross is to step down after almost eight years with the business.

Cross, who initially joined the eponymous department store chain as communications director in June 2013, will exit the partnership at the end of April. 

Cross was promoted to the role of customer experience director at John Lewis in February 2017 and his remit was broadened to include Waitrose last February. 

During that time, he has led the Partnership’s efforts to care for its most vulnerable customers amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Prior to the pandemic, Cross was instrumental in launching a number of new initiatives in John Lewis’ department stores. 

He oversaw the £3m revamp of its Southampton store to create “experience playgrounds”, offering customers barista and pasta-making classes, a farm shop and rooftop orchard. 

Cross said at the time of that relaunch in November 2019 that John Lewis was “reinventing the department store to make us stand out from the competition”. 

The embattled sector has been facing a fight to remain relevant in a multichannel era and has been further hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

One of John Lewis’ biggest and oldest department store rivals, Debenhams, was bought out of administration by online fashion giant Boohoo earlier this week. However, the £55m deal has only saved the Debenhams’ brand and its website, not its portfolio of 116 stores. 

New John Lewis Partnership boss Dame Sharon White has set out a bold plan to revive the group’s department stores business and allow it to better compete with online rivals. 

White’s five-year strategy includes plans to expand its digital, virtual and delivery capabilities in order to reach more customers around the UK, including through an extension of services. 

She expects 40% of the partnership’s profits to come from new areas, such as financial services, housing and product rental and resale, by 2030.

It has already had plans approved to convert almost half of the selling space at its Oxford Street flagship into offices. 

Cross said: “It’s been an honour to be part of a team who have driven the relevance of two of Britain’s best loved brands during an unprecedented time of change in the retail industry. I shall remain a lifelong fan.”