John Lewis is preparing to pitch itself to Londoners as an affable landlord, revealing plans for two rental developments at Waitrose sites in the city.
The retailer set out early plans to for build to rent developments in Bromley and West Ealing in London, as well as a vacant John Lewis warehouse in Reading.
The developments will include hundreds of homes, although John Lewis said it was too early for exact numbers.
John Lewis is aiming for 40 per cent of its profit to derive from non-retail ventures by 2030, including forays into financial services.
It hopes to deliver 10,000 homes in the next ten years, with 5,000 from John Lewis’ existing property portfolio.
In Ealing, a temporary store will be created for at least 18 months while the current store is razed and rebuilt with homes above. The Bromley Waitrose will be refurbished under plans.
Residents will be able to share their thoughts in a number of public consultations, prior to detailed designs being published.
John Lewis hopes to submit planning applications for its London blueprints at the end of the year.
Through its BTR proposition, the retailer believes it can “offer residents things that landlords might not be able to offer, Chris Harris, property director for the retailer, told CityA.M.
John Lewis is also set to be “very flexible” about deposits, with Harris suggesting the retailer would be “unlikely to charge one.”
Tenants may also find their new homes stocked up with John Lewis furnishings or home design. Harris said this could be “quite aspirational in some respects,” for those who do not usually access John Lewis products.
With a “significant pipeline”, the retailer would be working on more developments over the coming months.
While some critics may say John Lewis should stick to what it knows with retail, Harris said this was “shallow” thinking.
“As a partnership, yes we happen to be a retailer, but we are broader than a retailer,” Harris said.
The retailer had “some very strong credentials” as well as an existing property portfolio.
What’s more, John Lewis was a “top and very trusted brand,” at a time when many landlords are not very trusted, he added.