Edinburgh’s Jenners department store is closing its landmark site on Princes Street after 183 years with the loss of 200 jobs.
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which operates Jenners as part of its House of Fraser department store chain, said the store would close on 3 May after it had been unable to reach an agreement with the site’s owner on the extension of a tenancy deal.
The Danish fashion billionaire and major Scottish landowner Anders Holch Povlsen, who bought the Jenners building for a reported £50m in 2017, is set to restore and renovate it under a plan that will turn more than half of the site into a hotel.
The owner said in 2019 that a department store was “a vital future part of the project”, which includes restoring the building’s Victorian facade and three-storey central atrium, as well as adding cafes and restaurants.
However, department stores have come under serious pressure since then, with Debenhams about to permanently shut all its 124 remaining outlets, Beales closing all its stores after falling into administration and John Lewis closing eight stores last year.
Sports Direct bought House of Fraser out of administration in August 2018. Since then, at least 14 of the group’s original 59 stores have closed, including Frasers on Princes Street in Edinburgh and stores in Exeter, Shrewsbury and Cirencester.
A spokesperson for Frasers, which owns Sports Direct, Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Flannels as well as House of Fraser, said regarding Jenners: “Despite the global pandemic, numerous lockdowns and the turbulence caused for British retail, the landlord hasn’t been able to work mutually on a fair agreement, therefore, resulting in the loss of 200 jobs and a vacant site for the foreseeable future with no immediate plans.
“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.”
Povlsen has been approached for comment.