There has been much speculation in recent weeks about the fate of Jessops which today reported brisk trading over Christmas. Though the photography chain has bucked the high street gloom of recent weeks, its results for the year ended 30 September 2008 will not be released until later this month. Until then, Jessops bosses will not be making any comment on recent trading figures, according to a spokeswoman this morning.
Jessops has endured a turbulent time in recent years, with many job losses and store closures following rapid growth. But it all started from humble beginnings…
A Brief History of Jessops
1935: Frank Jessop opens a photography shop in Leicester
1960s: Frank and his son Alan focus on selling at low prices on a ‘cash and carry’ basis
1970s: Jessops moves to a 20,000sq ft premises on Hinckley Road in Leicester, later billed as the largest photography store in the world (closed in 2008)
1980s: A second store opens on London’s Finchley Road and by the end of the decade the chain boasts more than 50 shops
1996: The company is sold to a management buyout team led by Tim Brookes following the retirement of Alan Jessop. The chain snaps up Crewe Cameras and the City Camera Exchange, adding 25 stores to its portfolio as it heads toward the new millennium
2001: The number of Jessops stores swells to 200
2002: Private equity firm ABN Amro Capital buys Jessops for £116m
2003: Jessops chain grows to 250 shops
2004: Jessops is floated on the London Stock Exchange
2005: Jessops share price plummets after a drop-off in digital camera sales
2006: Jessops confirms that it is no longer purchasing used equipment or accepting it from customers in part-exchange.
2007: Jessops share price falls more than 70% after warning of a half-loss of £8.5m. David Adams (former deputy chief executive and finance director at House of Fraser) is appointed executive chairman. In June Jessops announces 550 jobs will be axed and 81 of its 315 shops shut down in the wake of its strategic review. The board tells Amateur Photographer that the chain may have grown too quickly for its own good. Jessops chief executive Chris Langley resigns three months later. Finance director Ian Harris also leaves the firm
2008: Jessops issues another profits warning causing a 30% slide in share price. The firm slashes 200 assistant manager jobs but says it does not plan further store closures. Jessops agrees an extension of its loan with HSBC bank until 31 December 2011
2009: Fears that Jessops may have suffered from a Christmas spending slowdown are dispelled with news that the photography chain reported a 3.1% increase in like-for-like sales for the five weeks to 5 January. However, sales for the 14 weeks to 5 January were down 5.6%, the firm says in a statement issued on 9 January.