Jessops brings options into focus with adviser talks


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The Independent Online

The main lender to Jessops, the 200-store camera retailer, has held talks with advisers over recent weeks to explore its options for the chain over the next year.

HSBC, the retailer's biggest shareholder with nearly a 50 per cent stake, has had discussions with accountancy firms, such as Zolfo Cooper, about helping Jessops with its financial planning and strategy for what is expected to be another tough year for consumer spending.

The bank, which saved Jessops from administration in 2009 via a debt-for-equity swap, is also understood to have gauged the interest of advisers in running a potential sale of the retailer. Zolfo Cooper, Jessops and HSBC declined to comment.

Jessops has endured a troubled time over recent years. But trading is thought to have improved since its rescue deal with HSBC took it private three years ago.

It posted a pre-tax loss of £12m for the year to 2 January 2011, on turnover of £304.6m. But like-for-like sales rose 5.1 per cent and online growth was 94 per cent growth. Its gross profit in 2010 was £87.7m.