Closure of Jenners is ‘terrible news for Edinburgh’

Monday January 25th 2021


Inside Jenners on Princes Street. Photo Christian Bickel

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Joseph Anderson

Council leader Adam McVey says the closure of the capital’s iconic Jenners store ‘terrible news for Edinburgh’.

The Princes Street department store, a mainstay of the city centre for over 180 years, has announced it will close in May after Frasers Group plc failed to reach an agreement with building owners Anders Polvsen to continue the lease on the building.

The announced closure of the store has put 200 capital jobs at risk in the middle of a global pandemic.

Council leader Adam McVey, and councillor for Leith, said:

“This is terrible news for Edinburgh, Jenners is an iconic institution in the capital and a lynchpin of our retail offer in the city centre.

“The retail sector has been hit extremely hard during this pandemic and this is yet another blow.

“As a council we’re doing a huge amount to help businesses weather these challenging times, administering over £100m in grants and supporting to highlight local businesses through the Forever Edinburgh campaign.

“This announcement will obviously have the biggest impact on the employees and we’re linking with partners on many other projects supporting those individuals and families who are most at risk of falling into financial hardship and face additional barriers to employment.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on jobs so we’re actively engaging with leaders in the employability and skills sector about how we support people back into fair work.

“We’ll make a determined effort over the coming weeks and months to see how we can help those who are at risk of losing their jobs from this closure.”

A spokesperson for Fraser Group Plc said:

“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.”

Mr Polvsen bought the building, which spans sections of Princes Street and Rose Street, for a reported £50m in 2017.

Anders Krogh Vogdrup, director at Bestsellers, the company owned by Anders Polvsen, said:

“We can confirm that Frasers Group has notified us that they will be exercising their break option, and so will be leaving the Jenners building.

“We have endeavoured to work with tenants during the pandemic and resulting lockdowns; offering rent-free periods, deferrals and payment plans, and encouraging our tenants to utilise Government-funded schemes to save costs and protect jobs.

“Despite the substantial rent reduction already granted to Frasers and rent-free periods to cover all lockdowns, Frasers has made the decision that it does not wish to continue in occupation.

However, Mr Vogdrup went on to say it is the group’s ‘aspiration’ to reopen the store at some point:

“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.

“We are in talks with retailer operators and are planning a programme of works to ensure that, when safe and able to do so, Jenners will reopen.

“Our primary goal is to see the department store returned 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.”

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