The John Lewis Partnership is pushing forward with plans to expand into housing to help improve its finances.

The retail giant, which permanently closed its John Lewis store in Watford in the summer, has eyed up 20 of it Waitrose supermarket sites which could be used for housing.

It means the group could build rental homes above or beside Waitrose stores around the country.

The exact locations of the 20 stores have not been revealed but Waitrose does have sites in St Albans and Rickmansworth.

The Guardian reported the Partnership will also review the development opportunities of other properties it owns.

Meanwhile, the Partnership warned, just a month after telling staff they will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953, that it will continue to cut costs as it outlined a new growth strategy aimed at reviving profits.

The company wants to save £300 million each year by 2022 by further streamlining its head office and operations – after diving to a £635 million pre-tax loss for the six months to July.

John Lewis Partnership chairman Sharon White said: “We’ve seen five years of change in the past five months, and Waitrose and John Lewis have responded with great agility.

“Our plan means the John Lewis Partnership will thrive for the next century, as it has the last.

“We’re adapting successfully to how customers want to shop today, while showing the partnership is improving lives and building a more sustainable future.

“We’ll share our success with our customers, partners – who own the business – and our communities.”