John Lewis to lose key exec as property chief steps down
John Lewis Partnership’s plan to diversify into property to help turn around its dwindling retail profits has been dealt a blow. JLP’s highly regarded Property Director Chris Harris has decided to leave in November after five years with the business.
Harris was previously head of property at the giant Arcadia Group, and in his current role he’s overseen the closure of 16 John Lewis department stores.
His role has spanned all areas of property and maintenance. Most recently he set up the new Build to Rent business and last year led the work to secure the firm’s partnership with Abrdn — a £500 million investment by that company into JLP’s Build to Rent aspirations. Between they aim to create 1,000 homes.
John Lewis’s hopes are that this could account for 40% of the group’s profits by 2030.
Finance director Bérangère Michel said Harris “had played an important role setting up the partnership for future success.”
Harris added: “I’ve decided that the time is right for me to explore new opportunities outside of the Partnership. Working for a Partner-owned organisation, with purpose at its heart, is very special… and [we] have made sure that we are well set up to deliver our strategic goals.”
Reports suggest he may seek to set up his own investment company to take advantage of distress in the retail property market, with The Times reporting he’s already received approaches from prospective private equity backers.
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