Camera chain Jessops
has always been a well-known popular stop for photographers looking for advice or new gear so when the news came that the troubled retailer was going to be bought by
entrepreneur and Dragons' Den star Peter Jones, the public's response was one of positivity, many believing that this house-hold name could be saved.
The company, whose money woes first started back in 2007, went into administration
in January with the closure of 187 stores. However, with plans to open between 30-40 stores and anticipated year one revenues of £80m, it seems that Jessops' new chairman and CEO could be on track to breath life back into Britain’s High Streets.
The new-look stores began re-opening their doors
at the end of March, employing many former Jessops employees and introducing a more interactive experience for its customers.
When asked about the new stores and the changes that have been made, Peter Jones told ePHOTOzine: "We have renovated each store, so that the experience is the same in each Jessops in order to make the experience more interactive, where customers will be able to handle the products.
Most of the stores will also have their own Jessops Academy. Through these learning centres we will be offering educational experiences, such as a one-day photography course where customers can learn how to use cameras, their functionality and all about the special features."
Peter added: "There is no substitute for a photographer trying out the product. Many photographers will be spending a large sum of money on a camera, or the accessories to go with it, and in our new stores we will focus on the ability to touch and try out the products. For example, we have 'play tables' that allow customers to get a real handle on the product they want to buy, while getting advice from our in-store experts."
So, with a new line up of stores under his portfolio belt, ePHOTOzine wanted to know if Peter had a new target audience for Jessops in-mind. Would he be focusing more on the photography enthusiast or the mass consumer?
"Jessops is about selling great cameras to people who love great photography," said Peter. "We have equipment suitable for all levels of photography, from amateur snappers through to established professionals, and welcome anyone with an interest in photography."
Peter continued: "The Jessops Academy will allow people just starting out on their photography journey to get fantastic advice and training from professionals and that added value is something we’re really excited about being able to offer."
When Jessops closed its doors back in January the majority of feedback Peter and his team received was about the customer service that the stores offered: "Each member of staff at Jessops is a photo-enthusiast and our staff have a well-deserved reputation as the best in the business. They are the most highly trained sales assistants in Europe, many trained by the manufacturers themselves, and we will strive to ensure that helpful, knowledgeable and friendly staff remain at the heart of the shopping experience in any Jessops store," said Peter.
The pull of knowledgeable staff and cameras actually being available in the shops, to try as soon as you walk into the store, shows that Jessops are very much about letting the customer get hands-on with equipment. However, will this be enough to turn people away from the internet and giant online companies such as Amazon who tend to offer competitive prices?
"I don’t see Jessops competing with the Internet as a High Street brand; we’re actually combining retail stores with a significant online business," explained Peter.
The online service, which caters for Jessops customers nationwide, gives customers the opportunity to 'Collect@Store
' which Peter says will complement the stores on the High Street: "Collect@Store
takes away the hassle of waiting in for a delivery, and I believe it will become a real USP for Jessops as a High Street retailer."
Only time will tell whether Jessops reach their revenue goals but even in the current economic climate, it seems the new chairman and CEO, along with his staff are working hard to bring business back to Britain's High Street.
For more information on Jessops, visit their website