Is Jenners closing? Iconic Edinburgh Princes Street Department store set to close - what we know so far

House of Fraser is leaving the Princes Street site

The owner of the iconic Jenners building in Edinburgh has said it will remain a department store, despite House of Fraser announcing its departure from the site.

Frasers Group announced that it would cease trading at the building on Princes Street, with the loss of 200 jobs.

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But the latest comments from the owner of the landmark building have caused confusion over whether Jenners will close for good.

Jenners department store is an Edinburgh institution (Shutterstock)
Jenners department store is an Edinburgh institution (Shutterstock)

Jenners has become an Edinburgh institution after occupying the spot for 183 years.

Here’s everything you need to know about the potential closure of the department store.

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Will Jenners close?

Frasers Group, owned by Mike Ashley, announced on Monday 25 January that the Jenners site would cease trading on 3 May.

The group operates Jenners as part of its House of Fraser department store chain.

It said it had been unable to reach an agreement with the site’s owner on the continuation of its lease.

A spokesman for Frasers, which bought Jenners in 2005, claimed that the landlord had not been able to "work mutually on a fair agreement", leading to the loss of 200 jobs and “a vacant site for the foreseeable future”.

He added: “Our commitment to our Frasers strategy remains but landlords and retailers need to work together in a fair manner, especially when all stores are closed."

Despite the departure of Frasers, the owner of the building, Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, has promised that the site will remain a department store.

A spokesman for Povlsen, who bought the building in 2017, said that "advanced" talks were taking place with operators to ensure that the site could “return to its former glory”.

He said: “This will see the end of the 16 year association between House of Fraser and this building, but not of the 180 years of Jenners department store.

"Our primary goal is to see the department store return it to its former glory; Jenners of Edinburgh is an institution and, despite the changing face of retail, it is our aspiration that Jenners will continue to be a retail store for as long as we are its stewards.”

However, the spokesman confirmed that Frasers owned the commercial rights to the “Jenners” name.

Mr Povlsen, who bought the property for a reported £50m, had previously revealed plans to turn parts of the Princes Street building into a hotel with cafes, a rooftop restaurant and shops.

The spokesman said that this project was on hold due to the current economic climate, but that the priority was a refurbished department store and any changes would “complement the store”.

He added: “We are in advanced talks with retail operators and following a period of necessary works, the department store will reopen.”

Department stores have recently come under serious pressure coupled with the rise of online shopping and the coronavirus pandemic forcing shops to close.

When did Jenners first open?

Jenners opened back in May 1838 as Kennington and Jenner - a boutique store which sold fine silks and linen.

The building was a converted townhouse on the corner of Princes Street.

By 1890, the shop had changed its name to Charles Jenner & Co and it had expanded to the adjoining buildings.

It quickly became the biggest retail establishment in Scotland and an Edinburgh institution.

However, disaster struck in 1892 when the original building burned down.

But plans for a new-look Jenners, backed by the local council, were revealed.

Famed architect William Hamilton Beattie, who also designed the Balmoral and Carlton Hotel, was the man behind the redesign.

The work was completed in 1895, and in 1911 the institution was given a Royal Warrant.

The Jenners brand was sold to House of Fraser for £46million in 2005, and in 2018 Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration.