Never Knowingly Let – John Lewis moves into Build To Rent

Build to Let, Buy to Let, News, Rental Market

Tenants who want to pop downstairs to the shop may soon be able to do so – thanks to the John Lewis Partnership.

The company is exploring the possibility of converting some of its retail estate to private rented housing as part a strategy to regrow the business in the wake of the Coronavirus. 

In a letter sent to 80,000 John Lewis and Watrose staff, the chairwoman of the company – Sharon White – says converting some stores or parts of stores to housing is under consideration.

“As we repurpose and potentially reduce our shop estate, we want to put excess space to good social use. We are exploring with third parties the concept of new mixed-use affordable housing” White wrote in her letter.

It’s likely that any housing scheme would be in the Build To Rent category; it is not yet known whether John Lewis would manage the completed units.

The company – which uses the catchphrase ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ – announced earlier this month that eight stores closed because of the pandemic would not be reopening.

In addition to its retail premises, most of which are freehold, the partnership also owns owns a 2,800-acre farm in Hertfordshire, four hotels and warehouses for logistics facilities.

One of its former stores, in Southsea, is already being converted into leisure use – as a hotel and cinema complex – but none has so far been identified as possible private rental locations.