Edinburgh’s famous Jenners department store will close the doors on its 183-year history after failing to reach a new agreement with its Danish billionaire landlord.
It marks the end of a Scottish institution once seen as the epitome of well-heeled Edinburgh shopping. Until it was taken over by House of Fraser in 2005, Jenners was the world’s oldest independent department store.
Frasers Group on Monday said the store would shut on May 3. The company, owned by Mike Ashley, has not been able to reach an agreement with Anders Holch Povlsen, the Danish billionaire who is the largest investor in online retailer Asos and one of the UK’s largest landowners.
The closure will result in the loss of 200 jobs. Frasers said that “landlords and retailers need to work together in a fair manner, especially when all stores are closed”, adding that the failure to reach a deal would lead to “a vacant site for the foreseeable future”.
However, local newspapers reported last month that Mr Holch Povlsen had plans to turn parts of the building into a hotel with a bar and restaurant.
High streets have been badly hit by lockdowns and customers shopping online instead.
Retailers with expensive leases have scrambled to reach alternative agreements with landlords, for example linking rent to turnover. Some retailers have simply not paid: shopping centre owner Hammerson last week said it had received less than half of the rent owed by tenants in the last quarter.
Jenners was established at its current site on Edinburgh’s Princes Street in 1838 by two young drapers who had been sacked by their employer for skipping work to watch horseracing. The grand building of pink, polished sandstone was completed in 1895 to replace the original humbler converted houses that had been destroyed by a fire.
Statuary on the building’s facade includes a series of caryatids — female figures — that founder Charles Jenner said were intended “to show symbolically that women are the support of the house”.
But the store had in recent decades found younger female customers harder to attract.