New twist on homeware: John Lewis to enter the UK housing market

Department store chain plans to build flats above its retail outlets to address residential property shortage

British retailer John Lewis plans to build 10,000 homes over the next few years. Getty

British retailer John Lewis has announced plans to enter the residential property market by building 10,000 homes over the next few years.

The department store chain will repurpose its land and car parks to meet its new “social purpose” of addressing Britain’s housing shortage.

About 7,000 of the 10,000 of the homes – ranging from studio flats to houses – will be built on existing sites, including above Waitrose supermarkets or next to distribution centres. The company said the remaining homes could be built on entirely new sites.

Tenants will have the option of decking their homes out with John Lewis products or their own furniture.

The homes will feature a concierge service and could even feature a Little Waitrose convenience store.

John Lewis said the plans would provide stable, long-term income, with the first homes set to be built in south-east England.

“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," John Lewis Partnership's strategy director Nina Bhatia said.

“It will also provide a stable, long-term income for [the] partnership, new employment opportunities for our partners and plays to our strength as a trusted brand known for strong service.”

The plans come as John Lewis's traditional department store retail business is under increasing pressure from the decline of the British high streets amid a shift to online shopping.

The chain has closed about a third of all its shops since February 2020, leaving it with only 35.

Last week, high street fashion retailer Gap announced its plans to move to an online-only model, shutting all its 81 shops in the UK and Ireland by September.

Updated: July 5th 2021, 10:29 AM