Jessops Back In Action As A Multichannel Retailer

Peter Jones, of Dragon’s Den fame has stepped in to save Jessops and breathe new life into the troubled business, which collapsed earlier this year. The company, well known for selling cameras, has been in existence since 1935 and it is hoped that this move will not only secure it’s future but see its transition from a high street store into a multi channel operation that has a larger online presence.
Speaking to Sky News, Jones said that “Online has exploded and it has made retail really tough, But I think with 30 stores in prime locations, with real touch and feel and with really experienced staff, we have a great chance of making it a success”.
Mr Jones decided to step in after the business had failed in January and his plans focus on making the stores slimmed down and streamlined, with the emphasis on creating a more Apple-like experience for consumers. He also favours introducing more multichannel operations, including the start of a ‘Click and Collect’ service and putting more emphasis on making staff expert advisers in their subject.
One of the main reasons behind the failure of the business was thought to be related to people’s love of mobile technology and the fact that they had high quality cameras already on their phones, thus they were not in the market to buy handheld compact cameras anymore. However, Jones firmly believes that there are many consumers out there who are not convinced by the quality of smartphone camera technology and thinks that they cannot produce the same high quality that a camera can.
Over the course of the next few weeks stores will be opened in 40 different venues, whilst some branches are already re-opened and trading in London, Manchester, Aberdeen and Birmingham.
Previous to its troubles, Jessops was a successful brand, which employed over 2,000 people and had an annual turnover somewhere in the region of £236 million. Whilst Jones wants to open and maintain a much sleeker operation, he will in fact create a further 500 jobs for the trained and experienced staff who had worked for the company up until the troubles hit. They had also been making moves to becoming a more interactive set up, but ran into financial difficulties before this idea could become a fully fledged working project.
In general, it seems that more and more companies are having to accept that they cannot survive with just a high street presence alone and that multichannel enterprises are the only way forward if they want to continue trading and move with the times. Companies like Kingfisher, the DIY group and French Connection have already put plans into place to do just this and are seeing that the fruits of their labours already.
In many ways this can only be seen as a positive thing. Over the last few years, criticisms have been levelled at increasingly ‘cloned’ looking high streets which are packed with the same stores, run in the same way, with very little new or innovative ideas to tempt consumers. This kind of multichannel enterprise paves the way for more small and independent retailers to gain a foothold in the door and experience what it means to run a shop from scratch and maybe even expand.
Jessops, alongside other companies such as HMV has sadly had to do it that hard way, by firstly going into administration before starting from scratch. Hopefully, Jones’ vision for the future can help them thrive once more, but they need to remember that consumers need choice and viable alternatives and not just cheaper pureplay to keep them interesting and shopping there.