Ex-Jessops boss: 'HSBC blocked my bid to save Leicester-based camera chain'
A retail veteran has claimed his bid to buy Jessops and secure its future was thrown out by the troubled camera chain's biggest shareholder.
The Leicester-based group, which has 192 stores, went into administration on Wednesday, putting 2,000 jobs in jeopardy.
David Adams, a former executive chairman of Jessops, who left in February, said he approached HSBC with the private equity-backed offer last summer.
Mr Adams, who is a non-executive director of both Halfords and HMV, said: "After I left, I put together an approach to buy the business, that would have left the banks at par, backed by private equity.
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"They were not interested in any discussions as they felt there was equity value to be realised in the future.
"Now, six months on, the business is in administration."
David Adams was parachuted into Jessops in 2007 as it struggled under a mountain of debt following a disastrous expansion programme.
In 2009, he secured a deal with HSBC, which left the bank with a 47 per cent stake in Jessops.
However, a spokesman for HSBC said: "HSBC has not received any credible approach to purchase its debt and/or equity positions in Jessops."
Mr Adams said he would now consider making a bid to buy the business from the administrators.
Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said HSBC had put in extra funding to Jessops, but had been hit by a "credit squeeze" by suppliers. It has been reported the business has debts of about £28 million. Administrators said a "significant" deterioration in trading in the run-up to Christmas exacerbated these financial problems.
Speaking about the company's fall into administration, Mr Adams said: "It was avoidable. I'm quite angry about it. The bank pulled the plug. They may be blaming suppliers, but it's them who have called it.
"We had positive growth in market share month-on-month for 24 months during my time at Jessops. I feel there were options to explore before administration."
The group, founded in Leicester in 1935, employs about 150 people at its headquarters in Scudamore Road, Braunstone Frith, and stores in Gallowtree Gate, Leicester and Loughborough. All stores continued to trade yesterday, but an announcement about shop closures and redundancies is expected either today or Monday.
Jessops will no longer honour customer vouchers or accept returned goods.
Business Editor's blog: Jessops: the camera never lies: