John Lewis has poached Arcadia group property director Chris Harris, who will join the department store retailer in the same role in March next year.

Harris, who sits on the board at the Sir Philip Green-owned retailer and appeared at the Select Committee investigation into the collapse of BHS last year, has spent a decade at Arcadia.

Before that he was vice-president of operations at Blockbuster UK.

Harris joins John Lewis at a tough time for the department store, which is currently grappling with its high cost base in harsh trading conditions.

Its half-year profits crashed despite a modest rise in sales with pre-tax profits down 53% to £26m including exceptional items and property profits.

Across the Partnership, total sales rose 2.3% to £5.39bn. Like-for-like sales were up 0.7% at Waitrose and 0.1% at John Lewis.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said restructuring and redundancy costs had hit the partnership’s bottom line.

As a result of the difficult retail climate, to which department store chains are particularly vulnerable, John Lewis will open fewer stores over the next few years than in the past.

It is due to open in Oxford later this month. The store is its latest iteration on its experience-led take on retail and boasts theatre-trained customer service assistants and special events every day of the year.