One of the key retailing casualties of the past six months has dramatically been revived by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones.
The entrepreneur has made a £5million pound move for the Jessops chain of camera stores that went into administration in January.
This saw the loss of 2,000 jobs across the country within the company’s 192 stores, which were failing to keep pace with pricing competition from online rivals.
Its demise coincided with a number of high profile high street businesses going into administration including electrical retailer Comet, HMV, video store Blockbuster, which prompted serious fears for the sector.
But Jessops fortunes, as with those of HMV, now appear far more secure with around 30 photographic stores including Worthing and Eastbourne formally being re-opened this month. This is reported to have created around 500 jobs.
Mr Jones believed the firm’s long heritage was worth saving and with the right strategy, would thrive despite fierce competition from internet-based competitors.
The stores in East and West Sussex were considered to be among the company’s most profitable and have been re-opened on that basis.
Many observers expected the brand was due to be retained by Mr Jones as an online only venture. But he believed retaining a reduced number of stores was vital to ensuring its future.
It is anticipated Jessops could deliver around £80 million of turnover in their first year, with projections of up to £200 million with five years. Central to its revival plans is a policy of ensuring its online prices are matched by those in-store.
Mr Jones, who is believed to have made an initial payment of £2 million into the venture, felt it had considerable prospects.
He said: “Jessops has a reputation which is well known. We know it is the number one brand, and I love it,” he said speaking to the Daily Telegraph on the move.
The experienced entrepreneur made the investment against an especially challenging year for retail as a whole.
According to latest statistics, during 2012, there were more than 7,000 retail store closures across the country. For the South East, this figure was 1,654, as against 1278 openings – a change of 376, which was in fact the highest relative figure within the country.
This has prompted a number of retail analysts to express concerns over how traditional high streets combat the rise of internet shopping and continued uncertainty in the economy.