PwC administrators called to Jessops

PWC ADMINISTRATORS have been called in to one of the UK’s major high-street camera retailers. Jessops.

Edward Williams, Rob Hunt and Matthew Hammond, partners at PwC, were appointed joint administrators on 9 January.

In recent days, discussions between the directors, funders and key suppliers, such as Nikon and Canon, broke down and due to the “irreconcilable differences” the administrators were called. Additionally, Jessops’ core market has been in decline with 2013 forecast seeing this trend continue.

The company, which has 192 stores and employs about 2,000 staff, has been struggling for several years now. In 2009, it managed to negotiate a debt for equity swap with HSBC which took a 47% stake in return for dropping £34m of debt.

In its latest results, Jessops had a turnover in December 2012 of £236m. However, its net debt was about £28.8m in January 1 last year.

Hunt said: “Over the last few days the directors, funders and key suppliers have been in discussions as regards additional consensual financial support for the business. However, these discussions have not been successful. In light of these irreconcilable differences, the directors decided to appoint administrators and we were appointed earlier today.

“Our most pressing task is to review the company’s financial position and hold discussions with its principal stakeholders to see if the business can be preserved. Trading in the stores is hoped to continue today but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions. However, in the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures.”

In 2007, recovery specialists from PwC were called into Jessops to examine various options. Just months later, CEO Chris Langley and finance director Ian Harris stepped down. 

One of the administrators Hammond is also working on another high-profile administration, the collapse of London Black cab manufacturer Manganese Bronze.

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