Peter Ruis has been hailed as the driving force behind John Lewis’s growth in the fashion market as he leaves to join Jigsaw as chief executive.
Ruis, who joined the department store chain as head of menswear in 2005, was promoted twice during his nine years - first to buying director of fashion and then to buying and brand director.
Since 2005, John Lewis’s market share for fashion (excluding footwear) has grown from 1.5% of the market, valued at £32.3bn, to 2.1% of £39.7bn in 2013, according to Verdict Retail - an estimated rise of £349.2m.
Financial analysts, brands and colleagues praised Ruis for the impact he made on the retailer.
Whistles chief executive Jane Shepherdson said that under Ruis, John Lewis had been “very single-minded about what it wanted to achieve, very consistent, with a very clear strategy”.
“He has done a very good job. It’s a shame he is leaving and it would be a shame if John Lewis changed its strategy now, because it’s just about to bear fruit,” Shepherdson said.
Verdict Retail analyst Honor Westnedge said Ruis had left John Lewis in “a strong position”. She said: “Peter has done an amazingjob reinventing the fashion offer at John Lewis over the past five years, bringing in new brands and strengthening its own brands. It’s a good time for him to move on.”
Ruis is to be replaced by home buying director Paula Nickolds. Although her name did not resonate with some in the industry, Westnedge said: “It is a good succession plan - she knows the business, she knows what he has been doing, so she can take the reins and I don’t think the shopper will notice.”
John Lewis managing director Andy Street was also full of praise. “Peter has revolutionised our fashion, home and technology offer and led our marketing team to its first ever [advertising awards] Cannes Lions win,” Street said. “We will all be sad to see him go and wish him the very best of luck for his new role.”
In joining premium retailer Jigsaw, Ruis fills a role that has effectively been vacant since Des Swan left in 2011.
It is understood the pair will step back from executive responsibilities when Ruis joins in September. Ruis described Jigsaw as “iconic”, adding that it “has huge untapped potential”.