From small boutique to icon of Princes Street - How Jenners became Edinburgh institution

As the Evening News revealed Jenners is set to close for good on Princes Street after over 180 years - we look back on its history.

Edinburgh’s most iconic department store Jenners will close for good in May. Picture: Ross Gilmore/Getty Images for Unicef
Edinburgh’s most iconic department store Jenners will close for good in May. Picture: Ross Gilmore/Getty Images for Unicef

Jenners is unarguably Edinburgh’s best-loved department store and was, up until 2005, the oldest surviving independent department store in the world.

The grand store, long regarded as one of Edinburgh’s most esteemed and magnificent institutions, started when a pair of drapers, Charles Kennington and Charles Jenner, were sacked from their jobs for going to the Musselburgh races rather than turn up for their shifts.

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Luckily the pair had backed the right horse.

They bought the lease on a converted townhouse property on the corner of Princes Street and South St David Street to start their own drapers.

Trading started on May 1, 1838 under the name Kennington and Jenner.

The boutique corner shop was soon raking in profits and expanded to become the largest retail establishment in Scotland. In 1892, disaster struck when the store burned to the ground.

With substantial insurance funds and financial backing from the town council, Jenners’ rebirth was nothing short of spectacular.

Architect William Hamilton Beattie was enlisted to create a true Edinburgh landmark for generations to come. The store continued to thrive during the 1900s and expanded several times to take up further retail space along both Rose Street and Princes Street.

The store continued to thrive during the 1900s and expanded several times.

In 2005, despite changing their mission statement to “Confidently Independent” the year before, the company was sold to its rival House of Fraser for £46 million after being family run for 167 years.

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