Jenners Edinburgh: A look at the history of the iconic Jenners department story - from fire to shock closure

Jenners is an iconic landmark in Edinburgh – we take a look at its history

It is one of Princes Street’s landmark buildings and is one of the first sights many will see as they arrive into the Capital. But today, tourists and residents watched in horror as the Jenners building was engulfed in flames.

It is not the first fire to break out at the former department store. Having been opened by Charles Jenner and Charles Kennington as “Kennington & Jenner” in 1838, the building was destroyed not 50 years later in 1892. It was rebuilt, and reopened three years later as the building that we see today.

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Jenners was one of the country’s first department stores, and has always been synonymous with class and style. In 2005, House of Fraser purchased the store, that had been operated by the Douglas-Miller family, who had been in charge since the founders retired. House of Fraser retained the Jenners name, and revamped the store with a £3 million investment, the most notable change being the creation of the basement toy store. The building itself was purchased by Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen in 2017.

Jenners: Here is the history of the iconic Edinburgh department store

After the 2020 pandemic hit, and the store – like all other non-essential shops – was forced to close its doors, House of Fraser announced they would not be reopening. The store was closed down and the famous gold lettering was removed from the side of the building, according to the owners of the building without their permission. The sign was eventually put back after the council intervened and issued a Listed Building enforcement notice.

Last year, owner Anders Holch Povlsen, head of company AAA United A/S, successfully obtained planning permission to turn the upper floors of the building into a luxury hotel. In a statement submitted with planning documents, AAA United A/S director Anders Krogh explained: “We understand the scale of the challenge and are fully dedicated to honouring this building and its place within the future of Edinburgh. We knew that one day the Jenners building would be standing vacant, and we would have the moral obligation of bringing it back to its former glory. We do hope that we can build support to fulfil this highly important task.

“This project seeks to secure the future of the Jenners building for generations to come. The original Jenners building will always stay and is the very DNA of our plans, with the redevelopment of a vibrant, sustainable and accessible department store being the heart of the project.” The restoration was expected to take around four years.