Waitrose property director Nigel Keen is leaving the grocer after almost two decades with the John Lewis Partnership.

Keen joined the Partnership back in 1999 with the remit of modernising its real estate function and developing a growth strategy for Waitrose.

He oversaw the expansion in the upmarket grocer’s store estate from 146 stores to 352.

During his time at the Partnership, Keen also led a four-year project to rebuild the Peter Jones store in London’s Sloane Square and was responsible for opening 10 new John Lewis department stores and 14 John Lewis At Home branches.

Keen will leave the Partnership at the end of January 2018 to focus on building his portfolio of non-executive and consultancy roles.

He already serves as a non-executive director at Bovis Homes, a role he was appointed to last November.

News of Keen’s departure comes just days after Waitrose revealed that it had poached Post Office commercial director Martin George as its interim customer director.

George fills the void left by Rupert Thomas, who was promoted to the role of commercial director earlier this year.

Waitrose boss Rob Collins said: “Nigel has made an immense contribution and a positive, lasting difference to our business.

“I wish him every success and happiness in the next phase of his career.”