Jenners Department Store

Jenner's Department Store, Princes Street, Edinburgh
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Jenner's Department Store, Princes Street, Edinburgh

This internationally-famous shop still occupies the site on Edinburgh's Princes Street where is was first established in 1838. Jenners was the oldest independent department store in the world until it was bought by the House of Fraser group in 2005 for £46 million.

Established as a drapery business in 1838 by Charles Jenner and Charles Kennington, who had been dismissed from another Edinburgh store after they had skipped work to attend the races at Musselburgh. The business grew and the store gradually expanded into the surrounding properties. Kennington retired in 1861 and left the store to Jenner, who eventually removed Kennington's name from the name of the business in 1874 (some 11 years after Kennington had died). Jenner in turn retired in 1881 and with no family left the store to his junior partner James Kennedy. The store remained the property of his descendents, the Douglas-Miller family, until the sale in 2005, with the historic 16,672 sq- m / 179,451 sq- foot building staying in their hands until 2017 when it was sold to Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen for around £53 million.

By 1892, the store had expanded greatly to become the largest retail business in Scotland, but in November of that year a fire burned the store to the ground. Architect William Hamilton Beattie was quickly commissioned to create a grand new building, built in the Renaissance style using pink sandstone and lavishly decorated at the direction of Charles Jenner, who had continued to take an interest in the store in his retirement. The building opened in 1895 and incorporated every modern convenience, including extensive electrical lighting, hydraulic lifts, air-conditioning and, not surprisingly, every effort was taken to protect the new building against fire.

Jenners is patronised by royalty, having been awarded a Royal Warrant in 1911. Today, the store maintains a reputation for tradition and quality, selling a vast range of goods from traditional Scottish gifts to toys, designer clothes, home-ware and furnishings.

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