John Lewis has hired Mary Portas’ business partner Peter Cross as its new director of communications.

Cross will join the department store retailer in June 2013 after nine years working alongside self-styled retail guru Mary Portas. He replaces Helen Dickinson in the role at John Lewis.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “Peter brings a unique mix of skills and unparalled experience to John Lewis.

“It is extremely rare to find a communication specialist with such a broad understanding of the UK consumer and the revolution underway on the British high street. We are looking forward to him joining us immensely.”

Cross added: “To be asked to lead the communications challenge at John Lewis is a great privilege. I’ve watched the extraordinary rise and rise of Britain’s favourite retailer over the last few years and am looking forward to helping Andy achieve the brand’s bullish ambitions over the next few years.”

As managing partner at retail consultancy Portas, formerly Yellowdoor, Cross worked with many of the UK’s biggest brands and delivered campaigns for Westfield, Louis Vuitton, Clarks and Mercedes Benz.

He has also worked alongside Portas across her commercial, television and charitable projects. Cross helped to develop Portas’ fashion collection for House of Fraser, her charity stores for Save the Children and contributed to her efforts to revive the UK’s struggling high streets and manufacturing sector.

Portas said: “It has been nine incredibly successful years of exhilarating collaboration. I am naturally sorry to lose him but know his creativity and passion will be an enviable asset to a brand we already all recognise as one of Britain’s greatest retail success stories.”