Administrators are taking control of high street camera chain Jessops putting 2,000 jobs on the line across the UK, saying store closures are ‘inevitable’.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been appointed to the group, which is Britain’s only specialist nationwide camera retailer, with nearly 200 stores.
The company’s administration marks the first high profile retail collapse of 2013 and comes after the loss of consumer electricals chain Comet, which sparked more than 6,000 job losses late in 2012.
Jessops has suffered from online competition and the boom in camera phones, which has impacted on the demand for digital cameras. There was speculation last year that suppliers such as Canon were considering injecting cash into the company to help prop it up, but no deal materialised.
The company has suffered from uncertainty for years but in 2009 managed to avoid administration by securing a debt-for-equity swap with lenders HSBC.
In 2010, then chief executive Trevor Moore stated: “I don’t think it gets much more secure than being 47 per cent owned by HSBC. They are committed to a long-term plan for Jessops – it is not about a quick turnaround or spin-out.”
Trading has turned against the company and Moore recently quit to join HMV as chief executive.
Jessops reported on Monday that they were due to shut 15 stores that were not meeting the “required level of viability” but affirmed that the high street remains an “important part” of the chain’s strategy.
The camera shop has faced challenges on a number of fronts, retail expert Professor Chris Edger explained to Channel 4 News, with the internet challenging its core business while the proliferation of camera phones has changed the market landscape.
“It is very sad to see the shops go but this is about technological innovation, they weren’t able to break into new domains, things have changed in the market and that’s very different to the cannabalisation we often see.
“They tried to bolt on services but it didn’t work, if you add to that the emergence mobile phone shops and Apple shops there is market substitution going on here.”