John Lewis plans to build 10,000 rental units on his land

John Lewis plans to build 10,000 rental units on his land

John Lewis plans to build 10,000 homes over the next decade as the street store group seeks to boost its fortunes by owning it.

The employee-owned group, which includes high-end John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, have reportedly identified enough excess space on the land they own to build at least 7,000 homes.

The properties, which range from studios to four-bedroom homes, will be built on chain-owned sites, above Waitrose supermarkets or on land next to the company’s distribution centers.

Tenants of a home owned by John Lewis will have the option of renting the property fully furnished with department store products or using their own. Some of its subdivisions are expected to have a concierge service, and many are expected to include a Waitrose convenience store as part of the development.

John Lewis’s first homes are planned for the south-east of England, but the partnership believes there are opportunities across the country, given the scale of the nationwide housing crisis as house prices are rising, putting properties out of reach of first-time buyers. If successful, it would be expanded to include other sites. The 80,000 employees of John Lewis, company partners, could be offered reduced rents.

This is not the chain’s first foray into the housing market. John Lewis also owns most of Leckford, a village in Hampshire, where every house with a green door is partnered property. The retailer is set to file a handful of planning applications early next year.

The move is part of the store’s plan to restore his fortune. John Lewis has had a very difficult time in recent years amid pressure from online rivals on Main Street, and has fallen to his first annual loss in 2020 from the Covid-19 pandemic. The big business changes caused by the crisis prompted it to close 16 of its 50 stores and pledge to spend £ 800million to renovate the remaining branches, as well as to improve its website and app from purchase.

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The fallout from the pandemic has meant staff did not get a bonus for the first time since 1953, a bonus also unlikely this year. The store group has been attacked in all the markets in which it operates. A sharp drop in his previously legendary customer service scores didn’t help matters.

“Typically, one developer can try to maximize returns and then move on to the next,” Chris Harris, real estate director of the partnership, told The Sunday Times. “We’re not trying to do that. We aim to charge fair rent and stay for the long term.

John Lewis’s projects are part of the burgeoning “build-to-rent” industry, where developers aim to provide tenants with greater security and visibility over any increase in their rent.


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