John Lewis lifer Simon Fowler is to take over the running of the department store chain’s flagship Oxford Street branch this weekend.

Fowler, a 1986 John Lewis graduate trainee, will fill the shoes of Noel Saunders to become the new managing director of the Oxford Street flagship store.

Fowler joins from Peter Jones where he was managing director for two years.

Saunders will head up the John Lewis Stratford store when it opens in September.

Fowler said: “I am very excited at this opportunity to lead our flagship shop which has traded in the heart of central London for nearly 150 years.

“John Lewis Oxford Street maintains a very special place in the heart of the John Lewis Partnership and I feel privileged to take the helm of our largest and most high profile shop.

“This is also an exciting time for London as the capital prepares for the 2012 Olympic Games, of which John Lewis is an official sponsor. John Lewis Oxford Street will play a large part in supporting this as well as continuing to offer customers great value on a full range of quality products and services.”

A John Lewis spokeswoman said: “This is a significant move in the John Lewis Department Stores structure which will place Simon as a key spokesman and advocate of the brand.”