Jessops stems Christmas sales decline with better stock control

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The struggling photographic equipment retailer Jessops managed to stem the sales decline over the key Christmas period with better stock control and strong sales of digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR).

The chain, which issued a series of profit warnings last year, reported a 0.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the seven weeks to 6 January, compared with a fall of 7 per cent the previous year.

Jessops closed a quarter of its stores last year as it battled for survival amid fierce competition from online retailers which led to a stockpile of unsold cameras.

Better stock control this Christmas meant the group halved the value of products in its stores.

The executive chairman, David Adams, said: "We were prepared for a tough Christmas trading environment and managed the business accordingly."

However, the improved performance was not enough to offset earlier poor trading in the quarter, and like-for-like sales were down 4.7 per cent in the 14 weeks to 6 January. Total sales plunged almost 25 per cent.

Mr Adams, who was brought in last spring to help turn around the fortunes of the group, added: "Much work remains to be done to return the business to sustainable profitability and this performance over the key Christmas period is an encouraging step."

Jessops has yet to appoint a replacement for the chief executive Chris Langley, who left in September.