Renewed uncertainty surrounds the fate and ownership of the high-profile British photographic retailer Jessops in the face of continuing persistent difficult trading.
Following a declaration in mid-October of the intention to appoint administrators to the property company that administers Jessops’ leasehold estate, it is now reported that Jessops’ owner, Peter Jones, is holding talks with unnamed potential buyers about the sale of the whole company.
Unofficial sources stress that this is only one of a number of options under consideration and that no firm commitment to sell has been made. It is not known what price is being discussed and it does not appear that any adviser has been appointed to handle a formal auction.
Indeed some say that Jones, who bought the business off the administrators after a previous collapse in 2013, remains eager to continue to support the business. It seems that the threat of another pre-pack administration is increasingly real and that negotiations with landlords about a company voluntary arrangement or other deal to control the rent bill of the company’s 46 stores are also ongoing.
However, it seems increasingly clear that the business is not sustainable in its current form, with the pressures that are affecting almost all high street retailers exacerbated by the impact of increasingly powerful and effective smartphone cameras on the photographic market. Sales fell by 11% in the last published annual results and it is thought that debt has continued to rise.