London Camera Exchange (LCE), England’s largest chain of independent photographic stores, has announced it is to move to employee ownership after 65 years as a family business. Originally planned for March 2020, the transition was delayed due to the pandemic, but the change to employee ownership will now be completed at the end of this month.

An Employee Ownership Trust has been set up with trustees consisting of employees who will represent the company’s 140-strong workforce.

The transition is being overseen by managing director and company veteran, Nick Richens, below. “London Camera Exchange has gone about its business in a modest and carefully-managed style over the years,” he said. “This has allowed it to grow and prosper – most recently in a harsh business environment. It is testament to the people working within the group that it has stood the test of time and has established the strong foundations that will enable this new ownership model.”

As a predominately high-street bricks and mortar business, the initial lockdown period had a major impact on the company’s revenue, another LCE spokesperson reports. “However, by quickly adapting to online operations, and innovations such as virtual demonstrations and events, the company was able to maintain a healthy level of business throughout 2020. Over 10 years, the company has grown 32% in an industry that has seen a consumer market decline of over 70% in the same period.”

When the transition has taken place, shop managers and staff will all continue in their existing roles. Once non-essential shops are permitted to begin trading again, London Camera Exchange plans to expand its high street portfolio with the opening of a new store on Park Street in central Bristol.

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