John Lewis unveils plans to become a major private landlord

Retailer John Lewis is preparing to become a large private landlord after unveiling plans to build 10,000 new homes on land it owns across the UK.

The new homes will be build over the next 10 years on land currently used as car parks and above Waitrose supermarkets.

The company has reportedly already found space for 7,000 rental homes, and plans to submit planning applications early next year.

Those who rent a property from John Lewis will be given the option to have it furnished with company products or to do it themselves.

According to The Sunday Times, John Lewis plans to develop its first new homes in southeast of England first before potentially spreading further afield.

Properties on the sites will reportedly come in various sizes, from studios to four-bedroom homes, and will have a concierge service and potentially a small Waitrose store.

In addition, it is suggested there are plans to offer company employees, of which there are more than 80,000, reduced rent.

John Lewis has 34 department stores across the country, seven warehouses and a further 331 Waitrose stores which could be potential sites of interest.

The move comes as John Lewis was forced to shut eight more stores across the country, putting 1,465 jobs at risk, in March.

John Lewis’ property director Chris Harris told The Sunday Times: “Typically a developer might try and maximise returns and then move onto the next one. We are not trying to do that. We are aiming to charge a fair rent and to stay for the long haul.”


John Lewis to enter the build to rent market with 20 sites

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  1. Mrlondon52

    A move first flagged up when Sharon White did her first press interviews a while a go. Not that surprising- if you have the land and you want to be famous for homewares and they can easily buy in the expertise. Two questions for me; how they fund it and how ‘fair’ their rents will be? The latter might come back to bite them in the bum.

  2. Will2

    I very much doubt they will be targeting the  true housing problems faced by this country.  We are now inundated with medium high rise blocks of flats that are very expensive to repair and mainatin when things need doing or things go wrong such as cladding. I truely can’t see these type of companies providing social housing. To use an 1980’s term “yuppy” housing will not solve social problems or housing problems people are facing. They will be targetting tenants in the higher rent bands offering choices of JL furnishings. What this country really needs is housing affordable to working people on low incomes (I have avoided the misleading political term of affordable homes). Our foolish politicians and so called housing charities try to bully the PRS into providing social housing. Housing those with the highest risks whilst JL will be at the other end of the market.

    1. PeeBee


      “The will be targetting tenants in the higher rent bands offering choices of JL furnishings.”

      That is most likely totally accurate.  But surely the point is that these are additional properties to the current rental stock – so every tenant in their ‘”yuppy” housing’ is one less in the queue for bread-and-butter property.

      Until, of course, they are forced to adhere to soon-to-be-announced changes to Planning laws that every street/block of rented property has to include 36.7% ‘Onslow-type’ tenants… ;o)

      1. Will2

        PeeBee, you are of course correct but the housing shortage is for, as you amusingly put it, your Onslow-type tenants. Of course, if there is over supply of the yuppy property then rents in that sector will fall.  The housing problems in the UK is for you “Onslows” and unless this is solved our crazy Government will continue to attack the PRS as a method to buy the votes of those who are without or are forced into rubbish property as that is all they can get. The Government have very devicive policies IMHO!!  Having recently tried to let a maisonette in a reasonable but very working class area and 2 weeks of marketing I had around 100 applications to view mostly from single mums so Onslow seems to have a good  and very active life style. The planning  will, of course, be got around by the big developers and drive out the small guys.

  3. paulgbar666

    These properties will all be flats.


    DON’T believe that is what people want anymore.


    But I guess there will be demand such is the desperate need for more rental property.

    These large Corporates can offset any loan interest against rental income to reduce tax bills UNLIKE sole trader LL so hardly fair competition.

    But whoever builds the properties isn’t that important as long as they get built.


    But certainly JL WON’T wish to be involved in social housing provision.


    They have brand value that they WON’T wish to see trashed due to the Onslow types.

    Does beg the question though as to whether they have thought the business proposition through.


    For the next 40 years there probably WON’T be continuous Tory Govts.


    Labour would introduce rent controls and if it is a looney left Labour Govt they will facilitate RTB of private LL properties!!


    It was due to rent controls and sitting tenants which caused corporates to get out of residential letting back in the 60’s

    That situation is rapidly returning.

    Mind you I suppose if that happened the corporates could just evict and sell the properties.

    But for any corporate they need to consider Govt policy.

    Commercial property was never really political but residential rental property is.

    Govt can destroy a residential rental business model just like that.


    S24 being a classic example.



    1. Will2

      Paulgbar666,  Blimey you must have the same crystal ball I have.

      1. paulgbar666

        Yep if I was a Corporate I would plan from the outset that rent controls and RTB might be introduced. So NO long term TA! Mind you I DON’T know what TA will be like when the AST and S21 are abolished. If I was starting out again I would certainly wait until the new repossession protocols were established.   In the meantime FHL seem a good prospect. Apparently a week in a cottage in St Ives is going for £75000!!          

        1. jan - byers

          They may be planning that.

          They are not looking at the next 1- 2 – 5 – 20 years they are looking 100 years plus ahead


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