John Lewis rental expands

Fat Llama: John Lewis expands furniture rental service

Department store chain John Lewis has expanded its furniture rental service after a successful trial last year.

Alongside specialist furniture rental service Fat Llama, the retailer will now offer more than 200 lines for loan, including beds and bar stools.

John Lewis said the furniture rental service includes sofa-beds and dining tables, as well as office chairs.

According to the retailer, the Fat Llama trial saw almost all of the initial rental collection snapped up within the first 48 hours of it becoming available, which it said highlighted the demand and changing attitude towards renting goods which would previously have been bought.

Two-thirds of those using the service last year were furnishing rented accommodation and just over a quarter had recently bought their homes. Desks and office chairs were among the top rental picks.

John Vary, partner & futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership, which runs John Lewis and Waitrose, said: “We’re seeing a real shift in consumer behaviour towards usership rather than ownership.”

He noted that the “weak signals were already there pre-covid” citing the emergence of car-sharing schemes, hot-desking and accommodation services like AirBnB, but argued the pandemic has “turbo-charged this with an almost back-to-the-future move towards sharing, reusing or trading within communities or groups”.

Vary said renting a dress or sofa is “the modern-day equivalent of borrowing sugar from next door”.

Nicola Waller, head of buying at John Lewis’ home furnishings department, commented: “With no need for the dreaded allen key, furniture rental offers quick convenience and all the fun without the commitment, allowing customers to live their bright mustard sofa dream for a year before returning it for someone else to enjoy.”

She added: “It is also a sustainable choice for our customers and the expansion of our rental scheme reflects our ambition to offer more sustainable ownership options and forms part of the commitment we made to our customers that all of our John Lewis product categories will have a ‘buy back’ or ‘take back’ solution by 2025.”

Previously only available in London, the furniture rental service will now be expanded outside of the capital. Customers can rent John Lewis furniture for 12 months at a time, followed by the option to purchase the product with payments already made deducted from the purchase price.

The service will be offered via Fat Llama’s ‘Flex Rental’ website and John Lewis said available furniture will be paired to geographical location.

Read more about rental’s rise to prominence in retail on Green Retail World

[Image credit: John Lewis Partnership]

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