Canon has dismissed as u2018rumour and speculationu2019 a report that it has invested u00a310m in high-street camera chain Jessops.
Amateur Photographer sought comment from both firms after an article appeared in The Sunday Times, reportedly amid concerns that Jessops turnaround is in danger of stalling.
The report claimed that Canon was prepared to help Jessops so that customers can test goods before they buy them, to help increase sales.
In response, a Canon spokesperson said: ‘Canon does not comment on rumour or speculation.’
In a near-identical statement Jessops told AP: ‘Jessops is unable to comment on speculation or rumour.’
Earlier this year, Jessops closed four stores – on grounds that they have not made enough profit – but said it had secured funding to refurbish up to 25 others.
Speaking in February, Jessops CEO Trevor Moore told AP that he sees ‘exciting opportunity’ to boost profit margin.
He told AP: ‘Some of this can be by working better with our existing suppliers and finding new opportunities – that can be around bringing new product to market, as well as expanding and evolving our existing range to make us a first choice destination for customers and the best channel to market for our suppliers.’
Asked how the chain can stop customers dropping in for advice and then going online to buy cheaper elsewhere, Moore extolled the benefits of equipping people with cameras that are set up and ready to use before they leave the shop. Staff can also advise consumers on appropriate accessories, for instance.
‘There is a reducing number of high-street businesses where customers can look and play with this fabulous technology without interruption and then talk to someone knowledgeable… The high street is diminishing not growing, so I think we have a really important role to play to source that need.’
Moore accepted that Jessops may not offer the cheapest gear but believes this is inevitable given its business model compared to online stores.
‘We are always going to have to work very hard to stay focused on price given our overhead… The differentiating factor has to be service and availability,’ he said.
‘Our job is to be very competitive on price. But we are probably not market leading because we have a big overhead to run in terms of the shop base and head office structure which, if I’m running a warehouse and shipping direct, I don’t have.’
Jessops, which runs around 200 stores, does 33-34% of its business online, compared to less than 6% just three years ago. Of these online shoppers, 70% choose to collect at store, said Moore.
Moore continued: ‘Our turnaround and recovery is progressing very well… In the past two months we’ve probably enjoyed the highest market share we’ve seen in recent years…’
Moore added that Jessops plans to expand its line of own-label products in a bid to improve its profit margin and offer better value to customers.