John Lewis Boss is looking at all of his 365 department stores and Waitrose supermarkets as potential sites to build the new homes.
The company stunned the city when it announced plans to move into private property development to diversify away from retail.
The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has set a target of 10,000 new homes over the next ten years.
Dame Sharon White (pictured), president of John Lewis, has staked her leadership on a plan to diversify the brand away from retail
Half of them will be on sites in their existing portfolio, meaning stores and supermarkets will be converted into residential properties.
This week commercial development director Nina Bhatia confirmed that the firm’s entire property is being considered for development.
The plans have given rise to speculation as to whether John Lewis will replace the existing store, build on top of the supermarket, or keep buildings alongside the existing store.
The company has already identified 20 initial sites for ‘build-to-rent’ projects, and expects to submit its first two planning applications in early 2022 – planned a year later.
John Lewis has some of the most recognizable sites in British retail, including a large department store in London’s Sloane Square and its flagship site on Oxford Street, as well as long-established shops in Nottingham and Edinburgh.
But the retailer has been struggling for years to battle falling profits and the impact of the pandemic.
During the pandemic it closed a third of its department stores and reorganized its head office, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.
However, JLP president Dame Sharon White has staked her leadership on plans to diversify the brand away from retail into a wider range of financial services, furniture rental, gardening and private housing.
The 54-year-old expects 40 percent of profit by 2030 to come from non-retail, adding that ‘as we rebalance and potentially reduce our shop assets, we’re going to put the extra space to good social use’. Want to keep’ – to tackle the housing crisis by offering affordable housing.
The flats will be decked out with John Lewis furniture, and the owners hope that residents will become Waitrose customers, or buy products such as home insurance.
An insider said: ‘Our focus is likely to be on more Waitrose sites at this time. I think we may be able to put our plans forward early next year.
The development will range from studio flats to houses. John Lewis is expected to sign up with a partner to build 5,000 on entirely new sites.
Andrew Busby, analyst at Retail Reflections, said: ‘It is clear that Sharon and her team have come to the right or wrong conclusion that they are going to get all the revenue they need from retail.
‘It is an indicator of intent and all bets are off. They are ready to see a lot – everything is ready to catch up.’
In the six months to the end of July, John Lewis reported a loss of £29 million, after spending millions of pounds on redundancies and closing shop.
This compared to a massive loss of £635million in the same period in 2020, when it wrote off £500million from the value of its stores.
It expects 60 to 70 percent of John Lewis’ sales to be online, compared to 40 percent last year.
Waitrose said a fifth of its sales would come from online customers, compared to 5 percent before the pandemic.