The owner of Edinburgh’s iconic department store, Jenners, has insisted that it will see it ‘returned to its former glory as a retail destination’ upon the departure of Mike Ashley’s Fraser Group, who will be vacating the premises for good this May.
News broke yesterday that the department store building and House of Fraser were drawing to a close their 16 year partnership after failed re-negotiations of lease between the two parties.
House of Fraser, which bought Jenners in 2005, issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying the store would cease trading on May 3, with the loss of 200 jobs. It said it had not been able to negotiate satisfactory terms for a continuation of its lease on the iconic building in Princes Street.
However, it was only hours later that a spokesperson for the Danish billionaire owner of the Victorian building, Anders Povlsen, issued the statement ‘that plans and talks were taking shape to ensure that, when safe and able to do so, Jenners will reopen.’
“This will see the end of the 16 year association between House of Fraser and this building,” went the statement, “but not of the 180 years of Jenners department store.”
Already in talks with retailer operators, the Povlsen spokesperson added that “Jenners of Edinburgh is an institution” and the company’s primary goal was to “see the department store returned to its former glory.”
“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.”
The spokesman confirmed Frasers owned the commercial rights to the “Jenners” trading name. But he added: “However, as long as we are its stewards, this building will remain a department store. Our aspiration is to restore the building to its former glory. The Jenners building will always have a department store.”
According to The Scotsman, Mr Povlsen had been working on a redevelopment of the building as a hotel with cafes, rooftop restaurant and shops. That project is currently on hold due to the current economic climate, but the owners insist plans are centred around a refurbished department store.
In the statement, 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.”