Jessops upbeat after sales rebound


Camera retailer Jessops reported strong Christmas sales

Camera retailer Jessops signalled further progress in its recovery plan as it reported a 3% rise in like-for-like sales over Christmas.

The chain, which secured its survival with a rescue deal in September 2009, said it maintained deliveries in the extreme weather by ensuring all stores were fully stocked and hiring local firms with smaller vans to reach customers.

It said the actions limited lost sales to between 1% and 1.5% in the six week period to January 9, while business also soared in the final week before Christmas and between Boxing Day and January 1.

Online sales leapt as snowed-in shoppers turned to the internet, accounting for up to 25% of all sales in the first four weeks of the festive season.

Jessops added that like-for-like sales throughout the final quarter of 2010 rose by 5.3%.

Jessops has been revamping stores and boosting its online business as part of efforts to get the business back on track after coming close to collapse. It rode the boom in demand for digital cameras, but struggled when high street and internet competitors muscled into the market.

A major overhaul in 2007 and a swathe of store closures was not enough keep the business on track and it became swamped in debt, leading to the 2009 debt-for-equity survival deal that left it largely in the hands of its bank.

Trevor Moore – appointed chief executive in September 2009 to lead the turnaround – said the measures have helped customers “rediscover Jessops”.

The group is rolling out completely new formats across its 206 shops, with a new black store frontage and so-called play tables that allow customers to look at cameras, in a move away from traditional cabinet displays.

Mr Moore said: “It will take a good number of years to return Jessops to being a good business again. Our first stage is to drive sales and grow our online business to become a multi-channel modern retailer.”

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