Jenners chief pockets £45m from sale

FORMER Jenners chief Robbie Douglas Miller has pocketed £45 million following the sale of the landmark department store. The former managing director banked the money in the wake of the takeover by House of Fraser.

The Douglas Miller family retained Jenners Princess Street Edinburgh - the holding company which ran the historic store - following the takeover in April last year.

That company was renamed JPSE Ltd and was left with assets of 72 million. JPSE was then sold to a new company called Moorcroft Capital Management, of which Mr Douglas Miller is the sole director and shareholder.

It has now emerged that Mr Douglas Miller's new firm received a 44.9m dividend from JPSE just before that transaction took place. The bumper payday for Mr Douglas Miller emerged as official documents also show his family also made a profit of 26m on last year's sale. Up to 50 members of the family, including Robbie's brother Andrew, are understood to have shared the cash.

Jenners, which was famous as the world's oldest independent department store, had been in the Douglas Miller family since 1881. It has continued to trade under the Jenners name since the takeover.

The Jenners store - which currently employs around 750 staff - has maintained its position on Princes Street since 1838.

The sell-off also included the Jenners leases at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports and the lease on the firm's Balloch-based Loch Lomond Shores complex.

House of Fraser's buyout of Jenners boosted the total shareholders funds of JPSE - now purely an investment vehicle - from 29.4m to 72m.

JPSE's latest accounts cover the 14 months up to the sale of the store. Jenners' retail business generated operating profits of 3.1m in its last 14 months under family ownership, compared with 2.3m in the previous year.

These results remained a far cry from Jenners' halcyon days. In the 1990s, it regularly churned out profits in the 4m-5m range but, in recent years, the store encountered a growing challenge from younger rivals such as Harvey Nichols and the designer stores around George Street.

The annual report states: "In 2004/05, the directors reviewed the group's position in what they considered to be a deteriorating retail market. After lengthy discussion with our advisers, the board agreed the best option would be to conduct an asset sale of the business."

Robbie Douglas Miller declined to comment on the figures.