Jessops administration: closures are "inevitable"

Jessops, the UK's only specialist camera retail chain and an iconic high street brand, has been forced into administration.

Credit issues with key suppliers Canon and Nikon are thought to be have ultimately forced the firm's hand, but underlying its cash flow crisis is the larger problem of increased competition from the digital world.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who has been appointed as Jessops' administrator, has said that the next 24 hours are a crucial period and that it hoped the chain could be saved. However, it conceded that store closures were "inevitable," while the Telegraph has put some 2,000 jobs as being at risk in the immediate future. The Jessops estate comprises nearly 200 physical retail outlets in the UK.

"Our most pressing task is to review the company's financial position and hold discussions with its principal stakeholders to see if the business can be preserved," said Rob Hunt, joint adminstrator and partner at PwC.

"Trading...is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions. However, in the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures," he continued.

There's more bad news for consumers: in addition to the "To Let" sign coming soon to a high street near you, PwC has said that Jessops will cease honouring vouchers or accepting returns.

Julie Palmer, a partner at business recovery group Begbies Traynor, said Jessops' administration was "yet another blow" for the UK high street and showed that January was a high risk month for retailers.

Only this week, Play.com closed down its direct retail operations and announced over 200 redundancies, demonstrating that online sellers also feel the pinch in uncertain economic times. Former electronics giant Comet bookended 2012 in dramatic fashion, ceasing trading following its own descent into administration.

It is the not the first time Jessops has flirted with disaster: in 2009, the chain narrowly avoided collapse, but was saved by HSBC is a shadowy debt-for-equity deal that saw the retailer pull out of Britain's stock market.

In addition to the threat posed to bricks-and-mortar stores by increasingly cut-throat online retailers, Jessops in particular is likely to have been adversely affected by the smartphone revolution.

The need for dedicated photography devices is diminishing, especially at the lower end of the market, with many handsets now sufficiently sophisticated that they can confidently handle basic shooting needs and serve as either a primary snapper for casual photographers or a back-up gadget to enthusiasts.