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.


  1. Could be a clever move, to house their own customers.
    But there’s no guarantee the residents will shop in John Lewis / Waitrose.
    Still, it will be a diversification for the company.

  2. Do renters shop in John Lewis? I was in my local store the other day and I think it is really expensive. I can’t see renters having the spare cash to shop there unless they plan to cater for well off, possibly retired, genteel types!

  3. How can a career civil servant be expected to turn around John Lewis & Partners?
    This is her very first private sector job. I’m sure she’s had the usual ‘consultants’ in to advise her fellow board members what to do. 🙂 They just had a record loss and now decide to become property developers. What could possibly go wrong?

  4. Perhaps JL ought to be providing housing for it’s own staff! As a co-operative style employer, it would then be going back full circle a hundred or so years, to when The Co-op built and bought hundreds of houses for its own staff to rent. Best of luck to them, and let’s hope more similar, large ethical companies start building to let, as is the case in many parts of mainland Europe.

  5. Shouldn’t they focus on their main struggling business first before venturing in a new market? Property development isn’t all easy money…


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