Jessops

Sad to see that UK high street photography chain Jessops has collapsed this week with the loss of many jobs.  Any customers with outstanding orders have now lost them and it looks like many units on British high streets are going to go vacant.

Fifteen to twenty years ago, I found Jessops very useful and often bought stuff from there.  They were good at film processing if not great at it and you could collect on the same day rather than mail it off, like I usually do these days.  There was a good range of hardware available and a lively second hand section.  Serious amateur photographers were critical of Jessops.  It wasn’t great at handling unusual requests and the staff had limited knowledge.  There was also some sales techniques going on as well.  I found it amusing that nearly every time I enquired about buying something, the assistant told me that he / she had bought this for Mam’s birthday / Christmas present.  If you had a Jessop’s employee in the family, your house must have been littered with SLRs and 50mm prime lenses.  Or perhaps they were lying.  I always thought that criticism of Jessops from the serious amateurs was a bit misplaced,  It was a camera supermarket not really a specialists’ shop.  It was Asda, not that quality butcher’s shop you go to for special occasions.

The photography market changed from film to digital, Jessops changed with it and I didn’t really change that much, as you can see from this blog, so I started to go less and less.  It was still a handy place to pick up some single rolls of film and get some processed quickly but I could do this cheaper and better via the internet as long as I was prepared to wait and buy in bulk.

I think that it would be easy to say that Jessops failed because it didn’t move with the times.  My feeling is that it wasn’t specialised enough.  It may have had a future if it pulled back from the high street and the expense of maintaining large retail units and focussed on online shopping.

Anybody else got any memories of Jessops?

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3 thoughts on “Jessops

  1. Everything you say is true but in recent years they just forgot where their customer might be. Having so many shops could have been advantage but they didn’t use that; an example is they offered some things – like the Tetenal C41 development kit – cheaper than anyone else but wouldn’t let you pick it up in store so not only did you have to wait, you had to pay a big minimum postage charge – £7.50 – which destroyed their advantageous pricing. Also, as you say, their shop assistants knew almost nothing about what they were selling, again a lost opportunity to attract the more discerning photo equipment buyer and, of course, the mass buyers too. In the end the only ‘special’ thing they offered was a 4-hour C41 development turnaround (which I used when on holiday last year) but, being a chain, individual shops didn’t take account of their local market – in my home town I can get a 20 min turnaround at half what was the price for the 4-hour turn-round at Jessops just down the road so, of course, I never went there.

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    • I think you’re right that they had so many shops and never really used them very well. They must have lost out in camera sales to PC World, Currys and Dixons when cameras became computers.

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  2. I agree, I think specialising is the way forward for shops like Jessops. I always found they tried to up-sell you in there as well, which used to annoy me! Fortunately there are a few good independent camera shops in Brighton and in Chichester, where I work. I find specialist knowledge and genuine enthusiasm for photography is what I look for in a photography shop.

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