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Dragon Jones buys Jessops out of administration

PWC ADMINISTRATORS have managed to rescue collapsed camera retailer through a sale to a number of buyers – including Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones (pictured).

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

Discussions between directors, funders and key suppliers such as Nikon and Canon broke down due to “irreconcilable differences”, a key factor in the company’s collapse.

Hunt said: “We can confirm that we have sold the brand and certain other assets to a number of buyers including entrepreneur Peter Jones CBE.”

Prior to the sale, the administrators announced on 14 January that it would close 187 stores, which would lead to 1,300 redundancies. Accountancy Age understands that the sales arranged by the administrators are for the stock and intellectual property (the brand).

At the time of the announcement on the store closures, Hunt said: “It is apparent that we cannot continue to trade and as a result we have had to make the difficult decision to begin the closure of all 187 Jessops stores at the close of business today.

“Regrettably, this will result in around 1370 job losses across the stores, with further job losses likely, in due course, at the head office in Leicester.”

In 2009, the business, which has seen a deteriorating customer base for several consecutive years, managed to negotiate a debt for equity swap with HSBC which took a 47% stake in return for dropping £34m of debt.

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

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.  

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