PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), appointed as the store's administrators, were unable to find a rescue buyer for the store and were forced to announce its closure. The firm will not be honoring gift vouchers and customers who have purchased Jessop branded products will not be provided with repair and exchange services.
The high-speed shut down of Jessops stores forecasts a gloomy year for high-street retailers. It is also sad news for the firm's customers and employees. Jamie from Digital Exposure (http://www.digitalexposure.co.uk), one of the leading photography studios in the United Kingdom, said "It is saddening to hear of the closure of Jessops camera stores. As a commercial photography studio we would often recommend them to budding amateur photographers, and have even used them ourselves. Now Jessops is gone the only place for most photographers left to shop is online, which is shame as they can't get hands on with the equipment."
The Historical Journey of Jessops
The Jessop Group Limited, which traded as Jessops, was a photographic retailing company founded by Frank Jessop in 1935 in Leicester. Under the leadership of Frank's son Alan Jessop, the firm began to expand. By early 1990's the firm had over 50 stores. Its 20,000 sq. ft. store on Leicester's Hinckley Road was named the world's largest photography store by Guinness World Records. In 1996, Jessops was sold in a management buyout. The store network had 200 stores by the year 2000. The Dutch bank ABN AMRO bought Jessops for £116m in 2002, and later floated it on the London Stock Exchange in 2004.
Jessops suffered financial difficulties in 2007 as a result of increased competition which eventually led to a re-financing from HSBC in 2009. However, the firm's financial problems continued, leading to its shutting down this month.
Reasons for the Crash of Jessops Photography Store
Intense competition from online retailers is one of the main reasons why Jessops disappeared from Britain's high streets. A poll reveals that British people spent over 68 billion pounds on online shopping, with a majority of people using Amazon. Most of Jessop's customers, including professional photographers, began using online retailers to purchase cameras and photography accessories.
People found it more convenient to purchase cameras and accessories from Internet stores. Online retailing removed the hassle of driving to a specialty store, finding parking lots, and standing in long billing lines. Online retailers have more efficient stock management systems that allow them to replace outdated stock easily. They also provide a much larger range of cameras and photography accessories.
In addition, online retailers offer consumer electronics at lower prices. The online retail stores of supermarkets, such as My Local Super, as well as behemoth online retailers like Amazon easily undercut specialty retailers like Jessops by offering greater discounts.
During the digital camera boom, Jessops had acquired a large number of properties. When the consumer trend shifted towards online shopping, most of the firm's stores became redundant. However, due to long-term leases and other factors, Jessops was unable to reduce its store count. The high rent for property and staffing costs put Jessops at a competitive disadvantage when compared to online retailers.
Along with the competition from online retailers, Jessops also faced a reduced demand for cameras. Consumers began to use multipurpose devices such as smartphones that came with high quality cameras instead of digital cameras. Jessop's responded to this changing consumer behaviour by making their stores more interactive and expanded their products by providing printing services, photography courses, and accessories. Unfortunately, these measures were not enough to bring customers back to the store.
Jessops chairman David Adams and chief executive Trevor Moore left the firm in 2012. This further weakened the business model of the firm. The firm's relationship with its core suppliers, one of its main strengths, took a severe hit. Changes in supplier credit terms also contributed to the decline of Jessops.
The Jessops brand and online are up for sale now and it is to be seen if a potential buyer can come up with a viable model that keeps this reputed brand alive.