11:59am Thursday 10th January 2013
By Alan Woods & Heloise Wood
JOBS are at risk for shop staff across the News Shopper patch after high street photography giant Jessops announced it had gone into administration.
The store blamed “reducing confidence in UK retail” for “a significant decline” in business last year and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) were called in as the administrators last Wednesday (JAN 9).
Although no specific announcement has been made about “inevitable” store closures, Jessops stores in Bexleyheath Broadway, Bromley and at Bluewater are three of the 192 nationwide at risk.
Jessops stores say they are currently unable to honour customer gift vouchers or accept returns.
Joint administrator and partner at PwC Rob Hunt said: “Over the last few days the directors, funders and key suppliers have been in discussions as regards additional consensual financial support for the business.
“However these discussions have not been successful. In light of these irreconcilable differences the directors decided to appoint administrators and we were appointed.”
Freelance photographer Grant Falvey, who works in Orpington and is based in Sidcup Hill, Dartford, said: “It’s a sad day for photographers.
“I’ve been using Jessops for such a long time and they have always provided a great service - I don’t know where I’ll go now.
“You could just walk in and know you’d be taken care of, there would be a warranty, and any problems would be sorted out.”
Mr Falvey, who worked for News Shopper for a number of years, said: “I’m not surprised but I am sad about it.
“The high street is changing and it won’t exist in a few years, it will just be shopping malls.”
PwC say although turnover in 2012 was £236 million and the firm’s online business grew, enough profit was still not generated.
Photographer Jason Steel, who lives in Watling Street, Bexleyheath, said he believes cheaper online shops is the reason for the decline, admitting he has not shopped on the high street for a number of years.
The 41-year-old said: “Everything is 20 to 30 per cent less online which is quite substantial when you are spending a lot of money on equipment.
“I’d definitely be sad to see it go though because when buying a camera, it’s as much about what you feel with the camera.
“There is nowhere to do that now. Jessops was somewhere I could go and feel the camera and see which one I preferred.”
Administrator Mr Hunt added: “Our most pressing task is to review the company's financial position and hold discussions with its principal stakeholders to see if the business can be preserved.
“Trading in the stores is hoped to continue but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions.
“In the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures.”
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