John Lewis has announced it will build 10,000 new rental homes over the coming years, not only contributing to the nation’s urgent need for housing, but also giving renewed life to their struggling retail units.
Great British retail institution, John Lewis, is in the midst of turbulent times. Like all retailers, it has taken a significant hit during the COVID-19 pandemic to the extent that, despite lockdown coming to an end, at least 16 of their stores will never open their doors to shoppers again.
Now, in a shock announcement from HQ, John Lewis will expand its operation to become a major UK landlord having announced that the company will build and manage at least 10,000 new rental homes.
3,000 of the homes will be built on new locations, but the remaining 7,000 are set to be located on existing John Lewis sites as the company looks to repurpose some of the retail units it has had to close.
According to BBC News, John Lewis has said the project will ‘give the firm a stable, long-term income, as well as providing new job opportunities’.
Nina Bhatia, Executive Director of Strategy and Commercial Development at John Lewis, said:
“As a business driven by social purpose, we have big ambitions for moving into property rental…(the move) plays to our strength as a trusted brand known for strong service”.
Initially, some of the first homes could be built ‘in department store car parks, above Waitrose supermarkets, or next to distribution centres’.
All of the new developments will come with a concierge service and include a mini Waitrose supermarket for tenants.
Furthermore, tenants will have a choice to either rent a flat unfurnished or fully kitted out with John Lewis products.
A rising trend
John Lewis is not the first company to repurpose its property portfolio for alternative use, it’s part of a rising trend of businesses that have seen their traditional business models collapse during the pandemic and thus looked for new ways of generating income from their properties.
The City of London is a prime example having announced that it will repurpose a large portion of its central London office blocks to become living accommodation after seeing the majority of their tenants reject office work for remote, home-based working.
We should expect this trend to continue, led by high-profile companies with a lot of high-value real estate up and down the country. The world is changing before our eyes.