The John Lewis Partnership appears to have revealed the name of its new property services business, with a trio of trademark registrations.
The partnership plans to build as many as 10,000 homes over the next decade, as part of a transformation strategy outlined under current chairman Sharon White, to generate around 40% of the partnership’s profits from outside retail by 2030.
The retailer has submitted planning proposals to build the first 1,000 buy-to-let homes above Waitrose stores in Bromley and West Ealing, as part of a £500m joint venture with Abrdn, announced in December 2022.
The partnership has registered three separate trademarks including the name ‘The Fold’, with the Intellectual Property Office, The Grocer can reveal.
‘The Fold by John Lewis’, ‘The Fold’ and ‘The Fold by JLP’ all cover the same five classes, which relate to property.
The classes include the arrangement of leases, development of commercial or rental property, and design of building interiors. The provision of gym facilities and the construction of bespoke furniture and appliances are among the other classes.
A spokesman for JLP declined to comment on the specific proposals when approached by The Grocer.
“We regularly register trademarks and not all are used,” the spokesman said.
The developments at Bromley and West Ealing are currently under consultation from local councils. JLP hopes to complete construction on the Bromley development by 2028.
However, the initial proposals – which would also eventually see the redevelopment of a John Lewis warehouse in Reading – have been met with scepticism from property experts and local councillors who haved questioned the financial viability of the plans, in particular the proportion of affordable housing proposed.
In September, JLP pushed back the completion date for its turnaround strategy by two years to the 27/28 financial year, following the publication of half-year results in which it posted losses of £57.3m.
The losses, albeit narrowed from the year before, meant that the retailer had made slower progress due to higher inflation and meant that it would no longer return to “sustainable” profitability by the original deadline of 25/26 full year.
Given the difficulties surrounding the scheme to date, and the subsequent delays, there had been question marks raised as to whether JLP would abandon the plans, following White’s announcement that she would step down at the end of her current tenure in 2025.
However, JLP strategy director Nina Bhatia insisted to the Telegraph in October that the mutual’s commitment to the scheme remained “unwavering”. Later that month, Martin Gafsen was appointed as the partnership’s new property director.