Camera chain Jessops reopens two months after closing

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Media captionPeter Jones: "I've never been more excited about re-launching a business"

Camera chain Jessops has re-opened two of its stores just a couple of months after going into administration in January with the closure of 187 branches.

The branches in London and Birmingham are part of a £4m investment.

The collapsed High Street brand was bought by a group including entrepreneur and Dragons' Den TV star, Peter Jones.

Mr Jones said: "I think it's a great day for British retail."

He told the BBC that "the main reason why I think it's going to be successful is that it's going to be a lower overhead base, lower cost."

The chain will have just 30 to 40 stores across the country and his aim is for customers to get products for the same price as online.

Asked whether there really is a market for cameras that are not integrated into mobile phones, Mr Jones said: "The amateur photographer, you wouldn't see them walking down the street taking that perfect picture with a mobile phone."

The re-launched company is forecasting sales of at least £80m in its first year, which it said will give it 15% of the DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera market in the UK.

'Wisdom of the moment'

It has pledged to create 500 jobs with its re-launch - with the majority going to former Jessops staff who lost their jobs when the chain collapsed with the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Mr Jones 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."

Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Centre for Retail Research at Nottingham University, said the decision reflected "the wisdom of the moment which says you can't afford to have lots and lots of stores all over the place."

Retail green shoots?

He said every retailer was having to work out the balance between shops and online. He believes Jessops aims to be an online business with a core number of stores strategically placed to give national coverage.

Professor Bamfield said things do seem to be improving in the High Street, although sales remain very erratic from one month to the next.

"People have been burned very severely and retailers are fighting on price and market share and how many stores they need. Retailers such as Next, who meet customers' needs, can still run a large number of stores by very tightly controlling costs."

The latest CBI survey found that retail sales volumes were flat compared to a year ago.

Barry Williams, Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel, said: "This month we've seen a glimmer of hope for retailers fade away, with the news that six months of sales growth has come to an end. All eyes are now on April when retailers expect sales to return to form."

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