John Lewis aims to become a large-scale residential landlord by building homes next to 20 of its shops.
The struggling retailer, which has been hit hard during the pandemic, has identified the sites where it can build quality and sustainable housing while providing a stable income.
It aims to furnish the properties with John Lewis Home products and hopes tenants will become Waitrose shoppers.
Already a landlord at three of its supermarket sites, John Lewis says it’s an obvious extension for the brand and is now talking to developers and investors who could help it achieve its ambitions to enter the build-to-rent market.
It will make planning applications for two sites in the new year in Greater London, with a plan to build the rental homes above or beside Waitrose stores.
John Lewis is backing the homebuilding project, along with other potential new business ideas such as selling home insurance and opening garden centres, with £400m of investment.
The action plan comes as the group heads for its first full-year loss after three years of falling profits; last month, the company announced plans to shut eight John Lewis stores and four Waitrose stores with the loss of more than 1,400 jobs.
Chairman Sharon White (pictured, left) says: “Our plan means the John Lewis Partnership will thrive for the next century, as it has the last.
“We’ll share our success with our customers, partners – who own the business – and our communities.”
In the summer the retailer announced a new furniture rental service to provide young renters with affordable John Lewis sofas, chairs and tables.