John Lewis Partnership private rented housing covid-19 sharon white

John Lewis is committed to keep building homes even as boss Sharon White prepares to step down.

John Lewis strategy director Nina Bhatia toldbusiness/2023/10/06/johnlewis-vows-continue-building-houses-scheme-questions/”> the Telegraph that the retailer’s commitment to its housing venture was “unwavering”, regardless of who replaces White as chairman.

Writing in the publication, Bhatia said “creating new, long term businesses is in the DNA of the partnership and was always intended by our founder.”

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Last December, the business revealed plans to build 1,000 rental properties on its land as part of a plan to diversify its business.

The homes would form part of the UK’s growing ‘built-to-rent’ property market as the Partnership seeks to raise standards in rental property, both through its role as a developer and a commitment to manage the buildings themselves.

But John Lewis has suffered a a multitude of setbacks in its flagship scheme to build more than 400 flats above a Waitrose in West Ealing.

Last month, advisers warned that it faced “extreme challenges” in making money from its scheme as planning documents revealed the development could result in a negative return of £57m for the business.

In the Telegraph, Bhatia admitted that John Lewis had “rightly” faced questions over why it was moving into property, but stressed the group would always prioritise its retail brands.

Bhatia added that John Lewis would manage its properties for the long term, rather than selling them off, stressing that the group would also provide as much affordable housing as possible and would work with local charities and communities to provide space for their activities.

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