John Lewis property supremo Chris Harris has resigned after five years in the role.

Harris will leave in November, The Sunday Times reported. He was a driving force behind John Lewis’ push into the housing rental market, including a £500m tie-up with investment company Abrdn to build 1,000 homes for rent.

Harris also oversaw the closure of 16 John Lewis branches following the pandemic and a 10% reduction of Waitrose’s portfolio.

The push into services, such as housing, is a key plank in John Lewis chair Dame Sharon White’s strategy for the John Lewis Partnership. The partnership sees such initiatives as becoming a big revenue and profit stream in the coming years as it seeks to turn around its fortunes after suffering a full-year loss.

In her pursuit of turnaround, White has also considered radical plans such as bringing in an external shareholder for the first time.

Harris is understood to be planning to run his own investment company, taking advantage of a weak retail property market, and has been approached by several potential backers.

His departure follows the abrupt exit of former John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks in February.