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Will John Lewis be your next landlord?

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Joining the ‘build-to-rent’ market in a £500m venture with the investment company and asset manager Abrdn, the John Lewis Partnership said it would create around 1,000 new homes, or one-tenth of its overall target of 10,000 in the next decade, as it seeks to diversify.

Subject to planning permission, John Lewis’s Waitrose shops in Bromley and West Ealing are to be redeveloped into homes and stores. An empty John Lewis warehouse in Reading is also to be redeveloped.

The retailer said it chose those sites because of their central locations and transport links.

Build-to-rent is a growing market

The ‘build-to-rent’ home market is forecast to double, according to Savills Research, meaning that 30,000 build-to-rent homes would be finished by 2026 to help stem a shortfall in options for tenants.  (Experts have said that London needs 75,000 more rental properties.)

Nina Bhatia, executive director for strategy and commercial development at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Our residents can expect homes furnished by John Lewis with first-rate service and facilities. The move underlines our commitment to build on the strength of our brands to diversify beyond retail into areas where trust really matters.”

‘Long-term returns for investors’

Neil Slater, head of real assets for Abrdn, said: “The critical lack of quality rental accommodation in the UK needs to be addressed, so we are delighted to partner with the John Lewis Partnership to provide the required institutional investment. The ambitions and responsible ethos of our brands both strongly align, and our partnership should offer investors long-term returns and give residents confidence in a top-quality living experience.”

John Lewis said it hoped to submit its first planning applications next year with a public consultation on the Reading project also expected in 2023.

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