Dragons’ Den star relaunches camera chain stores

Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones has relaunched camera chain Jessops – two months after it was forced from the high street.

Two Jessops stores will open today in London’s Oxford Street and Birmingham, with four others opening over the Easter weekend in Manchester, Aberdeen, High Wycombe and St Albans.

Up to 30 more Jessops stores are due to reopen in April, as part of a £4m (€4.72m) investment.

Jessops called in administrators PwC in January, leading to the closure of all 187 Jessops stores and the loss of almost 1,500 jobs.

Later that month Mr Jones and other investors bought the brand and certain assets. The entrepreneur is the sole owner of the relaunched camera store chain.

The company has pledged to create 500 jobs with its relaunch – with the majority going to former Jessops staff who lost their jobs when the chain collapsed.

Mr Jones, who appears as an investor on the BBC reality TV series about entrepreneurs, will take the role of chief executive and chairman.

He said: “I believe Jessops is an iconic British brand which can lead the retail resurgence on Britain’s high streets, powered by new innovations and world-leading, expert staff.

“Image is everything, and even in the mobile and tablet era, there’s no substitute for a quality camera when it comes to taking the perfect picture.”

Mr Jones opened the Oxford Street store today with TV comic James Corden.

The relaunched company is forecasting sales of at least £80m (€94.4m) in its first year, which it said will give it 15% of the DSLR camera market in the UK. Jessops also promised greater integration with its online presence, including an option to collect internet orders at store.

The camera giant was the first high-profile retail casualty of 2013, after suffering from online competition and a boom in camera phones in recent years, which hit demand for digital cameras.

At its appointment, PwC said the company’s core market had seen a “significant decline” in 2012, while forecast profits over Christmas did not materialise, squeezing its funding.

Jessops had struggled since 2007, when it underwent a major overhaul with a swathe of store closures.

The firm began life in 1935 when Frank Jessop opened his first shop in Leicester.

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