Jan. 10 - British camera specialist Jessops called in administrators after customers deserted its 192 stores to seek cheaper deals online, the latest casualty in the hard-pressed sector. Matt Cowan reports
It's been a dismal holiday season for many British retailers, and for the camera chain Jessops it was even worse. Store closures are now increasingly likely after the group slid into administration. SOUNDBITE: Sandra Walsh, Jessops Customer (saying): "I was absolutely shocked. I've been coming here all my life, getting my film developed, anything I needed for my camera I came straight here." And while it's flagship store was open and looked busy...not everyone came with the intention to buy. SOUNDBITE: Michael Christofis, Jessops Customer (saying): "I look here, but at the same time I look at the Internet as well." Jessops predicament highlights the squeeze being felt by retailers that are neither specialist enough to appeal to high end consumer, nor cheap enough to compete with online bargains. Add to that the fact that the new generation of smartphones come with cameras capable of capturing high quality pictures, and you start to see the problem. Bryan Roberts is the director of retail insights at Kantar. SOUNDBITE: Bryan Roberts, Director of Retail Insights, Kantar Retail (saying): "Amazon was certainly a factor, and has certainly undercut Jessops in some core product categories. That said competition has been coming from Jessops from all angles, from department stores, electrical retailers and the supermarkets and it finally broke under that strain." Jessops, which employees around 2,000 staff in 192 stores is the latest victim of a harsh trading environment. But it's not all gloom. SOUNDBITE: Bryan Roberts, Director of Retail Insights, Kantar Retail (saying): "I think the star performer has been John Lewis, which posted like for like sales growth of 13 percent which just goes to prove if you have the right product range with a very strong price promise and cracking customer service - there's no reason why you can't continue to gain market share." Consumer spending generates about two-thirds of Britain's gross domestic product and Britain's biggest clothing retailer Marks & Spencer also struggling, the picture does not look too promising.