High street store John Lewis has announced plans to enter the landlord market.
The flagship retailer is considering building 10,000 homes over a decade, ranging from studios to four-bedroom houses, above Waitrose supermarkets, in car parks and on depot sites.
Initially, 7,000 of the homes would be built on the firm’s existing property portfolio, however, others could be constructed on new sites too.
The diversification is part of a move to revive the company’s fortunes, after recording its first every loss during the coronavirus pandemic and announcing the closure of 16 stores.
People renting the homes will be able to opt for fully-furnished properties - using products from John Lewis stores - or kit them out themselves. Waitrose convenience stores will be incorporated in the developments and some will offer a concierge service.
The move is part of a growing interest by developers in the build-to-rent sector, which aims to offer tenants enhanced facilities, security and clarity around rent increases.
According to Nina Bhatia, executive director of strategy and commercial development for the John Lewis Partnership, the project is in keeping with the brand’s general ethos and a response to the UK housing crisis. “As a business driven by social purpose, we have big ambitions for moving into property rental," she said adding that the plans "play to our strength as a trusted brand known for strong service”.
Exact locations for the developments have not been revealed as yet, though the first John Lewis homes will be built in the south-east, with plans to extend nationwide. John Lewis’ 80,000 staff, all of whom are partners in the business, could be offered discounted rents.
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