Jenners could quit historic Edinburgh site as Bestseller owner revamps building
Historic department store Jenners could be under threat in Edinburgh with the owner of the building it occupies, Bestseller boss and retail billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, publishing plans to convert the space into a part-retail location that would also take in a hotel, rooftop bar and restaurant.
The retail element would reportedly have a high-end focus and could be linked to the Bestseller empire, rather than involving third-party brands, although it’s as yet unclear whether Jenners might still have a presence there.
Povlsen paid a reported £50 million+ for the building back in 2017 and his plans could deliver a major boost to the central Princes Street shopping district.
The department store has been on the site for 181 years and is currently owned by Sports Direct, having joined it as part of the House of Fraser takeover last year.
Anders Krogh, project manager of Povlsen’s property development company, called the presence of a department store a “vital future part of the project,” The Guardian said. Yet he also said a deal hasn’t been reached so far with the Jenners owner, and Sports Direct’s lease only runs until next year. A spokesman for Povlsen told the BBC that Jenners could move out of the building in 2020/21 after there had been no agreement on "favourable terms" to stay there. He said: "If they should end up not wanting to continue, it is unfortunately not our decision.”
The big question is whether Sports Direct remains committed to maintaining Jenners as a separate brand. It had seemed that it was when it closed its Frasers store on Princes Street last year. But it’s now heavily focused on building a new upscale Frasers department store chain and it will be interesting to see whether Edinburgh is on its priority list for this chain.
Meanwhile, the new plans would see the building’s facade being totally restored with original elements reinstated. The plans have still to be approved by the local authority and work wouldn’t be expected to start until later in 2020 or in 2021.
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