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Jessops back on the high street

After a disappointing Christmas sales period and the increasing competition from supermarkets and internet retailers, Jessops went into administration in January 2013. All 187 stores were closed, leaving 1,370 employees out of work.

There seemed to be no hope for the specialist photography retailer until Peter Jones - of Dragons' Den fame - swooped in and bought the brand along with a couple of other investors. Now he has set in motion the re-opening of 30 stores, including flagship outlets Oxford Street and Birmingham - the largest photograph imaging store in Europe. All in all, the rescue of Jessops will create 500 jobs with the majority going to former Jessops staff. Throughout April there has been one re-opening per day bringing the brand back to the high street.

Jones will take on the role of chairman and chief executive, investing 5m of his own fortune into the company. He said: I believe Jessops is an iconic British brand which can lead the retail resurgence on Britains high streets, powered by new innovations and world-leading, expert staff.

With advancements in the integrated cameras of mobile phones, and niche online retailers who are selling cameras for cheaper, it is clear to see how Jessops struggled to stay afloat and subsequently went into administration. In response to these challenges, Jones said: Image is everything, and even in the mobile and tablet era, theres no substitute for a quality camera when it comes to taking the perfect picture.

To make sure they are successful second time round, the brand will be focusing on customer service in the selection of stores that have been re-opened, instead of pushing those optional extras. They will also be driving online sales while still making sure that customers who shop in-store can get the products for the same price as online. This is absolutely crucial to the future success of Jessops, as it is no secret that a lot of customers are guilty of shopping about high street stores  finding what they want  then buying it cheaper online. This new measure just might be enough to combat this behaviour.

In each re-vamped store there will be tables to test out the cameras, photo workshops with highly-trained staff, many of who have had training with the camera manufacturers, and express printing services to improve the user experience. Jessops will continue to sell a broad range of cameras, giving customers a chance to fully try-out the products in-store before buying  which is the one thing internet shopping cannot provide.

Jessops is forecasting sales of at least 80m in year one which will give them roughly 15% of the DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera market in the UK. Photo printing specialists 'Jessop Photo' has been bought separately by CEWE, who are responsible for the management of photo services such as Argos, Superdrug and WHSmith.

With the expectation of success weighing down on his shoulders, Peter Jones appears very positive about the future of Jessops. Britains high street is fighting back  the facts show it, and I am giving my personal commitment to its resurgence by re-opening the doors of one of Britains most historic retailers.

You can find the locations of the new Jessops stores at www.jessops.com/storefinder



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