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Changes could ruin fabric of Savile Row, tailors fear

Savile Row tailors have called for the heritage of the historic London street to be respected, following the sale of a stake in the area to the Crown Estate and the separate opening of Abercrombie’s first kidswear store in the UK at 3 Savile Row last week (August 30).

The Crown Estate partnered with Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) to buy a 64.2% stake in the Pollen Estate, which includes Savile Row and neighbouring Cork Street, from the Church Commissioners for England last month for £381m.

William Skinner, managing director at Dege & Skinner, said: “We hope they understand the history of the area and will carry on and uphold the traditions of Savile Row. Alexander McQueen moving into the area [in 2012] has been very good for business, as it attracted a new type of customer.

“Abercrombie Kids [whose building is not owned by the Pollen Estate], on the other hand, doesn’t fit in. It would have been better on Regent Street or Oxford Street.”

Philip Parker, vice president of Henry Poole, agreed and said: “[Abercrombie] shouldn’t have been given the site in the first place. It’s ridiculous.”

Edward Sexton, founder of the eponymous tailor, added: “I fear more big businesses like Abercrombie – that have no link to Savile Row and are only using it to boost their credibility – will move onto the street, as they are the only ones that can afford the rent.”

Rising rents on the street were also a concern for Andrew Ramroop, managing director of tailor Maurice Sedwell, who said the future for craftsman tailors on the street could be “seriously under threat” if rents are raised.

But Shona Price, associate director at Deloitte Real Estate, which manages the Pollen Estate, said: “Rents will be in line with the market and won’t be artificially inflated.”

She added at least 50% of the affected shops have planning restrictions limiting conversion from tailoring. This excludes Abercrombie Kids, which is under separate ownership.

A property source said zone A rents are about £230, but could slowly rise to more than £300.

Gieves & Hawkes chairman Mark Henderson welcomed the Crown Estate’s involvement. “They have done a great job with St James’s [another London development they oversee] and I hope they continue to support what Savile Row stands for.”

A spokesman for The Crown Estate, which together with NBIM has four of the eight seats on The Pollen Estate board, said: “The estate management is the responsibility of the Pollen Estate board, not the Crown Estate directly.

“Savile Row and Cork Street have international reputations for tailoring and art galleries. We are supportive of the Pollen Estate board’s policy to support these primary uses.”

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