John Lewis is considering plans to build 10,000 homes over the next decade as the street store group seeks to revive its decaying fortune by becoming a homeowner.
The employee-owned group, which comprises John Lewis department store and Waitrose supermarkets, is understood to have identified enough excess space on the land it owns to build at least 7,000 homes.
The properties, which will range from studios to four-bedroom homes, will be built on land owned by the chain, above Waitrose supermarkets or on land close to the company’s distribution centers.
Renters 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 housing developments are expected to come with a concierge service, and many are expected to include a Waitrose convenience store as part of the development.
The first John Lewis homes are planned for the south-east of England, but the association believes there are opportunities across the country, given the scale of the nationwide property crisis as property prices rise, pushing properties out. out of the reach of first-time buyers. If successful, it will be expanded to include more sites. The 80,000 John Lewis employees, who are partners in the business, could be offered discounted rentals.
It is not the chain’s first foray into the real estate market. John Lewis also owns most of Leckford, a hamlet in Hampshire, where every house with a green door is a partnership property. The retailer is preparing to submit some planning requests early next year.
The move is part of the store’s plan to restore its fortune. John Lewis has been through a very difficult time in recent years amid pressure on the main street from his online rivals, falling to his first annual loss in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The major shopping changes caused by the crisis led it to close 16 of its 50 stores and commit to spending £ 800 million to review the remaining branches, as well as improve its website and shopping app.
The aftermath of the pandemic meant that staff did not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953, and one is unlikely this year as well. The group of stores has been attacked in all the markets in which it operates. A big drop in your previously legendary customer service ratings hasn’t helped matters.
“Usually one developer can try to maximize returns and then move on to the next one,” Chris Harris, the company’s director of properties, told the Sunday Times. “We are not trying to do that. Our goal is to collect fair rent and stay long term. “
John Lewis’s plans are part of the burgeoning “build to rent” industry, where developers aim to provide tenants with a higher degree of security and more visibility into any increase in their rent.