A camera store that shut down owing thousands of pounds to customers has responded to criticism and blamed its demise on competition from internet rivals.

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Mark Gregory, a former partner at the Norfolk Camera Centre in Dereham, has faced a barrage of criticism since the store closed leaving customers out of pocket or waiting for their equipment to be returned.

Amateur Photographer (AP) managed to track down Gregory this morning.

He confirmed that the business, which was run as a partnership, is no longer trading and that there is no plan to revive it.

Gregory claimed: ‘Everyone will be paid and will get their bits and pieces back.

‘It’s a matter of time to raise money and pay people.’

He said the store, located at 11 Nelson Place, also has other bills to pay.

Gregory said that fewer than 20 people are owed ‘varying amounts’ – totalling under £5,000 – and that many were contacted before the business closed in December.

He advised former customers to continue to contact the store through its website and he pledged to respond to enquiries.

Gregory blamed the store’s failure on its inability to compete with online competition.

This meant it was no longer able to sell top-end Nikon and Canon gear.

‘Any customer could go to Amazon and buy cheaper than from Norfolk Camera Centre,’ he said.

Gregory added that the store was also badly hit by competition from Wex Photographic, which has a showroom in Norwich less than 20 miles away.

He said Norfolk Camera Centre earned a 10% margin on sales ‘if you were lucky’, and that money earned from processing and repairs had kept the shop going during hard times.

Last week, one angry customer claimed that the shop’s owners had ‘run away’ and accused them of failing to leave contact details outside.

‘We had actually informed quite a few people,’ Gregory told AP, adding that signs placed in the shop’s windows may have since been removed by the landlord.

He said he has not drawn a wage from the business for the past two years and that an accountant is looking after its affairs.

The business vacated its Dereham premises on 31 December 2014.

‘We came to a break in the lease and it was decided that it was time to get out,’ added Gregory.

‘We can only apologise for how this has ended for customers.’

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