The House of Frasers store on Edinburgh’s Princes Street has been put on the market for £13.7 million in a sale that has been described as a “unique opportunity” to buy one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
The building is one of the capital’s most high-profile department stores and agents for the sale are highlighting the fact that the prime location at the west end of Princes Street could be transformed from a retail business into a flagship hotel.
Roddy Smith of business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “All the indicators are that Edinburgh can sustain more top-end hotels.”
The site has been home to a department store since 1894 when drapers Robert Maule & Son opened for business but the current building dates back to 1931, when the Binns department store began trading there.
It comes on the market 12 years after its current owners bought the Jenners store at the eastern end of Princes Street.
It has been home to a Frasers store since 1976.
According to reports, House of Fraser may be persuaded to give up a long-term lease on the west end store in the next few years to concentrate on the performance of Jenners. They said the site could be divided up for a number of different uses in future, including restaurant, bar, office and residential.
The sales brochure states: “Edinburgh is the most visited tourist and commercial destination in the UK after London, with an exceptional transport and communications network connecting it both internationally and with other cities throughout the UK.
“Edinburgh is one of the UK’S strongest retailing centres, generating an estimated £2.56 billion of in-store expenditure. This is further enhanced by tourist expenditure which is estimated at over £1 billion annually, equating to an average spend of £334 per visitor.”
Philip Hay, of agents Jackson Criss, said: “There is no definitive strategy from House of Fraser, but on the basis of the fact that it has two stores on Princes Street and the investment in this one hasn’t been huge, you would have to take the view that it wouldn’t be a long-term option for them.”
Roddy Smith, chief executive of business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “Retailers want things laid-out differently now. Stores like this one, and the ones Debenhams and M&S have on Princes Street, are like rabbit warrens.
“All the indicators are that Edinburgh can sustain more top-end hotels. We want the west end to remain vibrant to counteract what is going on in the east end.”