Jenners sign: New owner of Edinburgh's famous department store 'shocked' by removal of iconic lettering after trying to stop Sports Direct

A row has erupted between the new owner of Edinburgh’s iconic Jenners building and Sports Direct after the latter removed the famous golden lettering from the property.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 7:49 pm

Earlier this year, Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct, announced that it was closing the landmark store after 183 years over failing to agree a “fair” rental agreement with landlord, Danish retail clothing billionaire Anders Povlsen.

It was understood, however, that the famous golden lettering would stay on the historic building.

Yet in a bizarre turn of events on Thursday, residents in the Capital were stunned to find workers - believed to have been employed by Sports Direct - removing the famous letters.

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A picture of the letters after they were removed from the Jenners building on Thursday.

Anders Krogh Vogdrup – the director of Povlsen’s group AAA United – said the team were “shocked” and “surprised” at Sports Direct’s decision, which was made without consulting the landlord, and tried to stop them.

He said: “We are fully convinced that the signage is part of the listed building and that the removing is in breach with our contract and local planning. We have not discussed any such step with Sports Direct, and certainly not given any authorisation to do so.

“We have since yesterday done all possible to stop Sports Direct and we are in direct contact with the local authorities.”

He added: “We can only once again emphasise that the Jenners building of Edinburgh is an institution and, despite the changing face of retail, it is our aspiration that there will continue to be a retail store for as long as we are its stewards.

Left, the classic Jenners signage; and right, how it looks after the removal started. Credit Angela Smith.

“Our involvement in the Jenners building, is first and foremost about helping to preserve a unique historic building in Edinburgh. Already when we acquired the building, we knew that it came with a great deal of responsibility. Jenners is an iconic building in Edinburgh, and we take the responsibility very seriously.”

According to the BBC, the company hired to remove the famous Jenners sign insisted there was "no mystery" behind its "disappearance".

Nicky Erskine, owner of Edinburgh Rope Access, said that his team was hired to take down the shop’s signage and worked for two days to remove it.

He said it was now being stored on the sixth floor of the department store.

Asked about removing the signage, Mr Erskine told BBC Scotland: “It was sour sweet for me because I'm a very proud Edinburger so to work on such an iconic building was very special to me, but thinking it was the end of the department store made me feel terrible.

“I feel relieved now to hear it is not the end of such an historic store."

Edinburgh council is investigating whether the removal of the signs was a breach of planning rules due to “the historical significance of the building".

Cllr Neil Gardiner, the council’s planning convener, said: “We’ll take action if appropriate.”

The Jenners building has been a fixture on Princes Street for 183 years. It was bought by Mr Povlsen in 2017 for a reported £53m.

Mr Povlsen is reportedly in talks with a new tenant for the department store.

Frasers Group has been contacted for comment.

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