AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER INTERVIEW WITH JESSOPS BOSS, FIRST PUBLISHED JULY 2012
[In the weeks prior to this, former CEO Trevor Moore had declined a request to be interviewed by AP’s newsdesk about the company’s latest sales results and plans for the future. The company had also refused to reveal its latest profit/loss figure, meaning we had to find out ourselves through records held at Companies House.]
Earlier this year, it was reported that Canon had reached a £10m agreement to ‘prop up’ Jessops, and that HSBC was in talks over the future of the business.
‘It’s rubbish,’ said executive chairman Martyn Everett who will assume a hands-on role at Jessops after CEO Trevor Moore announced his departure yesterday.
Everett has stepped in as Jessops executive chairman from the non-executive position he has held since joining the firm in March.
In an interview with Amateur Photographer (AP), he said: ‘To be straight, HSBC [which is also Jessops’ bank] are clearly not long-term holders of camera retail – it’s not their core business, but there’s no immediate plans for them to exit that position.’
Everett pledged to maintain a ‘large’ network of shops but to continue to shut stores that do not meet profit targets.
He stressed that Jessops is not in the throes of a ‘gradual closure’ programme, but investing in stores such as the flagship branch in New Oxford Street which, he said, cost a fortune to refurbish.
‘It’s a question of making sure we are in the right high-street location and we put our resources behind successful, profitable stores.
‘We opened Hounslow this year and we are going to be opening a new, large, flagship store in Bristol shortly.’
Departure of CEO
Meanwhile, Everett heaped praise on Trevor Moore who will leave the company at the end of this month after three years as CEO.
Everett said he does not plan to hire anyone else to fill the CEO position.
Asked why Moore decided to leave, Everett said: ‘I can’t really tell you much. Trevor has an exciting opportunity that he’s going to… but it’s not something he or Jessops are in a position to talk about for another 2-3 weeks.’
Everett wanted to make clear that Moore ‘wasn’t pushed’ and will leave with Jessops’ ‘goodwill’ at the end of July.
He suggested, however, that his departure came as a blow.
‘I would have preferred to have kept him but clearly life goes on… and we need to accept that,’ he told AP.
‘But, he’s left a good team behind so, while he’ll be missed, I’m still confident that we can take the business forward…’
Paying tribute to Moore, he added: ‘One of the things Trevor has done over the past few years is build a very strong [management] team around him…
‘I have only been in the business for four months but I have to say I share his passion… I think it’s a fantastic business.’
So, what’s the future for Jessops at a time of double-dip recession – with photographers still reeling from shock at the demise of rival chain Jacobs? Jessops most recent accounts show that the company made a £0.9m loss after tax.
Everett said he cannot comment on whether he expects Jessops to break into profit next year.
‘We tend to focus on EBITDA because, at the end of the day, the bank are our majority shareholders as well as our debt providers.’
EBITDA measures a company’s earnings before factors such as tax, interest and depreciation – a clearer indicator, to investors, of a company’s core profitability.
‘EBITDA was up to 5.7m last year which is a big increase on the year before.’
Though the market remains ‘tough’, Everett is positive about the future. ‘We have done a fantastic job of growing market share and top-line growth and we want to be more focused.
‘We want to continue to grow the business, but in a way where we can become more profitable and cash generative.’
But how does Jessops deter potential customers from coming in for camera-buying advice, only to walk out the door and order from an online competitor?
Everett replied: ‘By having a talented, quality sales team… At the end of the day you can’t stop people doing that [ordering online], but if [customers] go into a store they need well-trained staff who are there to help with their purchase – then there is a certain loyalty and likelihood they will want to proceed with the transaction before they leave.’
He added: ‘We are constantly looking at online prices – we don’t just sit in a bubble. We are aware of what our competitors charge, and keen to make sure we are product competitive.’
Martyn Everett joined Jessops as non-executive chairman in March, from a director’s role at media rights group Chorion.