John Lewis introduces furniture rental scheme

UK: High-end department store company John Lewis has introduced its furniture rental scheme to appeal to millennials and the Gen Z demographic, particularly those residing in short-term lets.

The retailer has partnered with rental marketplace Fat Llama to provide shoppers with the possibility to buy furniture at any time, with payments already deducted from the purchase price. It is placing its focus on the millennial market at the heart of the gig economy as those in the younger generation typically move home more regularly than their parents, sometimes every 12 months.

John Lewis customers will be able to rent out any of the company’s 50 products, such as desks, chairs, dining tables and sofas, for between three and 12 months, and have an additional flexible option to buy them at any time they choose. Rentals start at £6 a month for desk chairs and £32 a month for three-seater sofas, while year-long rents for desks or chairs start at £17 through Fat Llama.

Johnathan Marsh, the director of home at John Lewis, told The Daily Express: “We want to make our products and services as compelling and meaningful to the next generation of customers and how they want to live. Attitudes towards renting items and the sharing economy have dramatically shifted in recent years, and we know that renting, reselling items and recycling them is a growing priority for our customers.”

Starting initially in London before it expands across the country, the scheme will offer flexibility for renters and digital nomads who change their style preferences over time and move around more for remote work.

Any items that are returned are professionally cleaned before being let out again to customers.

Chaz Englander, co-founder and chief executive of Fat Llama, said: “The world is changing and people are focusing more on access instead of ownership. As we have seen in the US, renting furniture instead of owning it is becoming the new normal for millennials; a generation that is moving house every 12 months.”

John Lewis is following an increasingly well-trodden path, following the launch of furniture rental subscription service startup Føerni in Hong Kong last month.

Meanwhile, Canadian interior design startup Fülhaus announced the launch of its new Work From Home furniture packages earlier this week, styled and furnished exclusively for the European market. The furniture packages offer a variety of looks for short-term rental owners to choose from.