UK retailer John Lewis links up with Abrdn to build homes for rent

John Lewis has teamed up with investment manager Abrdn in a £500mn multi-decade deal to build 1,000 rental homes, becoming the first British retailer to turn some of its shops and other properties into houses.

The employee-owned partnership, which said in June that it wanted to get into housebuilding, plans to build the properties in Bromley and West Ealing in London, and in Reading.

John Lewis will develop and manage the homes, using its property assets, in the first tranche of a 10,000-home plan over the next decade. The company earlier said it would use two Waitrose supermarkets and a former collection depot for redevelopment.

“This is a long-term joint venture that brings together Abrdn’s experience as one of Europe’s largest residential investment managers together with the trust, service and quality synonymous with the John Lewis and Waitrose brands,” the group said on Friday.

The deal includes a commitment to affordable housing and sustainability, John Lewis said, with the aim of providing a “stable income” for the partnership as it seeks to diversify from retail.

Abrdn and John Lewis will unveil more details for West Ealing and Bromley “in due course” and aim to submit their first planning applications next year, said Neil Slater, head of real assets at the investment manager.

A public consultation for the site in Reading is expected in 2023.

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