The John Lewis Partnership has poached a top Co-op executive to take charge of its eponymous department store business.

Co-op deputy chief executive Pippa Wicks will join John Lewis in August as executive director, taking the helm at a crucial moment for the retailer.

At John Lewis, Wicks will be responsible for trading, merchandising, marketing and developing propositions and services for shops and the website.

Her appointment, following that of ex-Sainsbury’s executive James Bailey in the same role at John Lewis Partnership stablemate Waitrose, is another move forward as the group restructures to reflect changed retail conditions under chair Sharon White.

The appointments of dedicated chiefs turn on its head the strategy spearheaded by former Partnership chair Sir Charlie Mayfield, which was designed to create strength through efficiencies, but was widely seen as misguided.

White said: “I am delighted to welcome Pippa to the Partnership. She brings a wealth of experience of leading and developing businesses that deliver brilliant products and services to customers, both online and in stores.

“Pippa has an exceptional track record, including at the Co-op group, which, as a membership organisation, shares similar values to the Partnership in terms of the commitment to the communities we serve.”

“John Lewis and Waitrose are two of the most loved brands in the UK, and the Partnership the largest social enterprise.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, there is tremendous opportunity for John Lewis to play an even bigger role in people’s lives. I am confident that under Pippa’s leadership the brand will continue to thrive.”

Wicks said: “I feel extremely privileged to be joining the John Lewis Partnership at such an important time in its history.”

Along with Bailey, Wicks will be part of a seven-strong executive team.

Simon Coble, formerly the most senior director of John Lewis, will remain as trading director.