Jessops is to step up its mystery shopper programme as part of a nationwide plan to improve customer service at its 211 stores, says chief executive Trevor Moore in an interview with AP...
Page One: Jessops CEO on mission to boost service
CEO Trevor Moore was speaking to AP at Jessops’ flagship store in New Oxford Street, London
Jessops is to step up its mystery shopper programme as part of a nationwide plan to improve customer service at its 211 stores.
TO VIEW A VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH TREVOR MOORE SEE HEREChief executive Trevor Moore (pictured below) told Amateur Photographer (AP): ?We?ve up-weighted our focus on mystery shopper this year so they will be happening more often than they have in the past.
?They?ll be happening consistently throughout the year. The results of these are reported to the board within 24 hours, so I can see who is truly delivering excellence??
Moore, who was hired as chief executive last September, is clearly passionate about boosting service at the 75-year-old chain.
Moore outlined plans to provide 38,000 hours of training this year – through five ?regional academies? which he described as ?centres of excellence where people will be taken away from the store environment?.
Moore has pledged to reward his staff on the back of the service they deliver ?not necessarily on the profitability that they generate per head?.
Focus on frontline services
In a recent interview with AP, he revealed: ?In the past six weeks we?ve put 1,500 people through what amounts to over 12,000 hours of training, focused on frontline services, service that our customers receive in store and that revolves around various stages of the customers? journey – what they see when they come in, how they are attended to, looked after, and how we assess what?s best for them product-wise.
?We will assess their needs and ultimately provide them with a product that is the right one for them.?
And there?s more. In the next six months the boss plans ?significant amounts of specialist product knowledge training?.
?We will go back, before Christmas, and refresh our teams on the service journey that we started,? said Moore in an interview at Jessops? flagship store in New Oxford Street, London.
Page Two: Will Jessops close more stores?
Moore sees customer service as key to Jessops? growth, in tandem with the recently announced refurbishment of 25 more stores by the end of the year.
The store makeover decision came after Jessops paid a consultancy firm ?a lot of money?, last summer, to assess where the firm?s market lies and what its customers liked and disliked about its shops.
Shortly afterwards, Jessops’ main operating company was sold to a new firm called Snap Equity Ltd, 47% of which is owned by HSBC, the rest held by pension trustees and an employee trust. As part of the financial rescue, Jessops was delisted from the Stock Exchange five months later.
Four months since it was delisted, and in view of the continued economic uncertainty, can the high street chain survive in its current form in the face of competition from online retailers and general electronics stores?
?Yes, very much so,? Moore insisted. ?The very tough job of rationalising Jessops’ store chain has been completed over the past two years and Jessops has been able to exit its unprofitable stores.
?Our store base now is a positively contributing one, so our businesses add value to our organisation.?
So no more closures then? ?We do not have a specific store closure programme. I would broadly expect to be operating a similar number of stores at the end of the year,? replied Moore who wants to maintain the size of the ?retail estate?.
He added: ?What may prove to be an opportunity this year is the chance to relocate some of these stores as the leases come up [for renewal] to better locations within those towns, where the market or pitch has moved and we have been out of position.?
Signs of recovery?
Green shoots of recovery are already in evidence it seems. Despite concerns of a post-Christmas lull, from January to April Jessops experienced year-on-year growth in sales.
?I am delighted to say that on the back of the restructuring – and new stability that HSBC?s dominant shareholding has brought – there was a level of confidence in the business, and among the team, that helped us grow? As we came through the New Year, the first quarter treated us very well? This year, to date, our business is in single digit like-for-like growth and each month has got better ? a step-up on the past.?
However, speaking to AP around the time of the General Election, Moore was fearful of a sapping in consumer confidence and a potential shrinking of disposable income brought about by any future tax rises and tightening of the public purse strings.
Yet, it seems it’s best foot forward for the CEO who appears outwardly confident about the future. ?For me, it?s head down and take everything that is out there at the moment, where you can? Our expectation is to return Jessops to modest profit by the end of this year.?