2000 jobs at risk as Leicester-based camera chain Jessops collapses
About 2,000 jobs are in jeopardy after camera chain Jessops plunged into administration yesterday.
The business, founded in Leicester in 1935, could disappear from the high street after becoming the latest casualty of tough trading.
Declining sales over the past few months had left the company with major financial problems.
Efforts by bosses to secure a funding lifeline over recent days have failed.
Administrators said some of the firm's 192 stores would almost certainly close.
The company had already announced on Monday it was shutting 15 shops.
No details about store closures or redundancies were given last night.
Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers did not say whether it would look to sell the business as a going concern. It said Jessops would no longer honour customer vouchers or accept returned goods.
The group employs about 150 people at its headquarters in Scudamore Road, Braunstone Frith, Leicester, and at stores in Gallowtree Gate, in the city centre, and Cattle Market, Loughborough.
Experts said Jessops was unable to compete with low-cost online operators and supermarkets.
It comes less than six months after fellow Leicester photography chain Cecil Jacobs disappeared from the high street, after 73 years.
Jessops escaped administration in 2009 after agreeing a deal with HSBC over its heavy debts.
Martin Traynor, chief executive of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "Obviously, this is sad news for the people who work for Jessops. But unfortunately, it isn't unexpected."
Professor Jim Saker, retail lecturer at Loughborough University, said: "This is basically a result of them losing the cheaper end of their market to the internet and supermarkets and the business being too big to survive as a specialist camera outlet.
"It is possible they could eventually continue with a much smaller presence on the high street."
The business was founded in 1935 when Frank Jessop opened a camera store in Newarke Street, in the city.
In the 1970s, it opened a 20,000sq ft outlet in Hinckley Road, Leicester, which the firm claimed was the largest photography store in the world.
The group grew to more than 300 stores after floating on the London Stock Exchange in 2004 and was valued at £160 million.
However, demand for specialist knowledge about digital photography quickly waned and the company was forced to close more than a third of its stores.
It had a turnover of £236 million in the year to December 31 and is reported to have had debts of about £28 million.
Customer and professional photographer Glen Tillyard, of Smeeton Westerby, said: "It's a very sad day, particularly as it comes so close after the demise of Cecil Jacobs."
Fellow customer Andrew Selby, of Loughborough, who visited the town's store yesterday morning, said: "The staff were taking all the stock off the shelves.
"It was very sad to see."
Business Editor's blog: Jessops: the camera never lies: