Jessops plans to stock more digital SLRs and less compact cameras as part of a huge shake up of its business that will shut down a quarter of its stores.rnrnPicture credit: Chris Cheesman

Jessops plans to stock more digital SLRs and less compact cameras as part of a huge shake up of its business that will shut down a quarter of its stores.

The news came after the high street chain yesterday announced plans to close 81 shops and cut 550 jobs, following its strategic review.

Digital SLRs will play a crucial role to Jessops success as the retailer battles to return to profitability in 2008 and ensure its business is ?fit for purpose?.

DSLR sales shot up at Jessops by 24.9% in value and 57.1% in volume terms for the six months to 1 April 2007, compared to the same period last year.

?Digital SLRs will become a bigger and bigger percentage ? that?s a growing market and digital compacts are declining so the mix will change,? explained chief executive Chris Langley at a media briefing in central London.

Langley explained that Jessops has been badly hit by falling prices of compact cameras and memory cards. However, the company is keen to stress there has not been a ?slowdown? in sales of digital cameras.

Currently, Jessops camera product mix is 50% compacts and 50% SLRS. Jessops expects this to change to 70% DSLRS and 30% compacts under proposals outlined by Langley.

Jessops also plans to sell more ?high margin add-ons? such as lenses and accessories such a tripods.

Bosses plan to close 81 stores by 30 September and hope to reduce total overheads by more than £15m.

Some of the job losses will be at Jessops head office in Leicester.

Meanwhile, Jessops said it has agreed £66.5m of funding with HSBC bank over the next 18 months.

?This is day one of the next stage of the company development,? said executive chairman David Adams, the recently recruited former finance director of House of Fraser.

Asked whether working for Jessops was easier than selling skirts Adams – who is a former finance director of Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins – replied: ?It?s a very different supplier dynamic, I think that?s fair to say. There are fewer suppliers. It?s different. Selling skirts wasn?t easy either.?

? A fuller report on Jessops plans, following the press briefing, will appear in an upcoming issue of AP

For our story on yesterday’s announcement click below:

Jessops: the full statement

Picture credit: Chris Cheesman

Jessops executive chairman David Adams (centre) is flanked by chief executive Chris Langley (far left) and finance director Ian Harris (right) at a hastily arranged press briefing in central London following its store closure announcement yesterday

Jessops executive chairman David Adams (centre) is flanked by chief executive Chris Langley (far left) and finance director Ian Harris (right) at a hastily arranged press briefing in central London following its store closure announcement yesterday