Alan Jessop welcomes the buyout of the family name by Dragonsu2019 Den entrepreneur Peter Jones u2013 even if the brand may only survive as an online retailer.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that, ironically perhaps, Alan Jessop is listed as one of the thousands of customers that Jessops owes money to – albeit only £21 – following its collapse.
Companies House records seen by Amateur Photographer (AP) show that Jessop is owed the money by the business his father founded in 1935, for some photographic filters he ordered but never received.
But Jessop, who left the business in 1996, wants to make clear that he has not filed a claim with Jessops’ administrators for this relatively paltry amount, in light of the massive human and financial impact of Jessops’ collapse last month.
Commenting on news that Peter Jones has bought the brand name, and is set to relaunch the Jessops website, Alan Jessop said: ‘I’d like to see the name out there and respected again.’
So far, Jones has remained tight-lipped on whether any Jessops stores will reopen.
However, Jessop pointed out that his father, Frank, originally started the business as a mail-order company.
He also voiced delight at news that two former Jessops staff have taken over a former Jessops outlet in Bicester, Oxfordshire, despite it not bearing the Jessops name when it opens on 1 March.
Jessop, who ran the camera chain until his retirement, told AP: ‘I am really pleased… We didn’t have a store in Bicester when I was with the company.’
And he feels there is still room for a specialist high-street photographic chain of up to 50 shops, to allow manufacturers to show off their wares, provided stores are located in larger towns and the businesses are tightly controlled.
A store stocked with ‘a range of accessories’ – and with knowledgeable staff – is important, he said, when asked what he sees as key ingredients of future success in an era of competition from web-based retailers and supermarket chains.
When he worked at Jessops, the business stocked 20,000 different lights, he told AP.
Jessop also revealed the extent of the escalation in rent costs the firm would have faced in recent years.
When he left 16 years ago, a typical store, he said, would be paying an average of £22,000-28,000 per year, and at most £35,000.
Last month, AP learned that a Jessops store in Manchester faced an annual rent bill of £170,000, according to Wilkinson Cameras, whose boss was put off making a bid for the shop after seeing the figure.
‘When I joined the company in 1960 we had one small rented property and a turnover of around £20,000 a year, employed four staff and made good profits,’ Jessop added.
He stressed: ‘Throughout the whole time we always paid our bills on time.’
Not surprisingly, when AP pointed out that ‘Alan Jessop’ is on the list of Jessops creditors, he was keen to play this down, given that manufacturers and customers are owed many tens of millions of pounds.
‘I ordered a couple of UV filters before going on holiday – at the same time as I bought a new camera and lens – and paid for them at the same time.
‘I think that, at a sad time – when many loyal staff have lost their jobs and some customers have lost large sums through gift cards and pre-payment for goods – the interest should be for the staff welfare and for the many suppliers that have lost, not only a considerable amount of money, but a high-street window for their goods.’
He added: ‘For the general public, there is also a significant loss. Many Jessops staff were highly knowledgeable and respected by the public for the advice they could offer.’