Jul 30, 2020

John Lewis looks to private homes to offset high street pain

John Lewis & Partners is to expand its financial services business and venture into housing and horticulture after warning that margins in retail are too thin to sustain the company in the long term. In a letter sent to the group's 80,000 staff or "Partners", chair Sharon White said a strategic review, which she launched in March shortly after joining, "Should see green shoots in our performance over the next nine to 12 months, and our profits recovering over the next three to five years". These could include using some of the partnership's significant land and property assets - as well as some freehold stores, it owns a 2,800-acre farm in Hertfordshire, four hotels and various logistics facilities - for private rented housing. Following the experience of Covid-19, Dame Sharon reiterated that the partnership would become a much more digital business, with around 60 per cent of John Lewis sales and a fifth of Waitrose revenue likely to be generated online in future. As already indicated, the two partnership's brands will work more closely together, with more Waitrose food in the department stores and John Lewis homewares in the supermarkets.

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