Department Store Chain John Lewis to Build 10,000 Rental Homes

Department store chain John Lewis has announced plans to build 10,000 rental homes over the next decade to restore its fortunes and to help address the national housing crisis.

The chain plans to build at least 7,000 homes on the land it owns, such as on its department store car parks, above Waitrose supermarkets, and on the land next to its distribution centers. Meanwhile, the remaining will be built on entirely new sites.

The first homes are planned for southeast England, but John Lewis believes there were opportunities across the country.

“As a business driven by social purpose, we have big ambitions for moving into property rental to address the national housing shortage and support local communities,” Nina Bhatia, executive director of strategy and commercial development at John Lewis Partnership, said.

Bhatia added that the plan provides “a stable, long-term income,” as well as new job opportunities.

The announcement comes as John Lewis battles an increasingly competitive online market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It had its first annual loss in 2020 because of the pandemic, which led to the closure of 16 of its 50 stores.

The homes will range from studio flats to four-bedroom houses and tenants will have the option of renting the property fully furnished with John Lewis products or using their own, the chain said.

The chain’s 80,000 staff could be offered discounted rents.

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