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John Lewis to enter ‘build to rent’ housing market

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
16/10/2020
The retailer wants to benefit local communities by providing 'quality and sustainable housing'
John Lewis to enter ‘build to rent’ housing market

John Lewis said announced it is entering the ‘build to rent’ housing market as it sets out bold plans to reach more customers and grow future profit.

It also said it plans to offer savings products.

The retailer said it is “already successful” in the financial services sector with the John Lewis Partnership card being “the UK’s biggest retail credit card”.

But it announced it is committing £100m over five years to quadruple the business as it looks to offer new products and services such as savings and insurance “where trust really matters for customers”.

Housing ambitions

Meanwhile, it has identified 20 sites it owns which could be used to benefit local communities by providing quality and sustainable housing, while providing a stable income.

It aims to submit planning applications in the new year for two of the sites in greater London.

By entering the ‘build to rent’ housing market, the John Lewis Partnership plc will also be able to furnish the properties using its home products and deliver Waitrose food.

“We’re a landlord already at three of our properties so this is an obvious extension for us. And we’re now talking to developers and investors who can help us achieve our ambitions”, it stated.

Five-year plan

The move comes as John Lewis announces plans to reach £400m profit by year five; to expand its digital, virtual and delivery services; pledges to recruit young people coming out of the care system and commits to cutting waste and becoming net zero carbon by 2035.

As such, it said it will grow Waitrose delivery capacity beyond 250,000 per week (up from 55,000 pre-pandemic) and an additional 25 Waitrose shops will join five other stores in the Deliveroo trial to deliver shopping in 30 minutes.

It added that when profit reaches over £200m, it will pay staff the voluntary Real Living Wage and aims to pay a bonus when profits exceed £150m and its debt ration falls below four times.

Last month, John Lewis confirmed it will scrap next year’s bonus for staff – the first time since 1953 – after posting pre-tax losses of £635m.

Nina Bhatia, executive director of strategy and commercial development at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “This is a bold plan to grow our business and get us much closer to our customers. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the country’s most trusted brands and we’ll offer the best products and customer service on the high street and online.

“We’re creating new inspirational services for customers where strong ethical values and peace of mind matter, like reusing and recycling products, personal savings and rented housing. Our plans will firmly establish Waitrose and John Lewis as the go-to brands for customers that care about quality, value, and sustainability.”

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