26 jobs now at risk as Jessops chain goes into administration
Some 26 jobs are at risk at Jessops stores in Northern Ireland after the camera company was put into administration.
Staff spoke of their shock as Jessops became the first major retail casualty of 2013 when accountants PwC were appointed to oversee its operation.
The chain has almost 200 stores across the UK but just three remain open in Northern Ireland, following a string of closures —and more are expected.
PwC said the business’s core market suffered “significant decline” over the year and slumped even more in the run-up to Christmas because of falling confidence in UK retail.
Joint administrator Rob Hunt said discussions to get more financial support for the business had failed but that they would discuss with lenders and other “stakeholders” whether the business could be saved.
He said: “Trading in the stores is hoped to continue today but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions.
“However, in the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures.”
All 26 Northern Ireland staff were last night unsure if their jobs were secure or not.
Employees said they had first learned of the news from customers. One man, who had worked for the firm for three-and-a-half years, said it was “a good company to work for”.
He said: “It’s really bad news really. I’m a team leader here and I’m just trying to not let it get too out of hand for the staff here.”
PwC added that Jessops was “not in a position to honour vouchers or to accept returned goods”.
Consumer rights group Which? said customers need to be aware of their rights.
A spokeswoman for Which? said claims could be made by writing to administrators with proof of the vouchers. If items bought on a credit card are worth more than £100 they can be refunded.
The spokeswoman said: “With the increasing number of high street retailers going bust, consumers need to be aware of their rights, particularly regarding warranties and gift vouchers.
“If a store goes into administration it may refuse to accept gift vouchers, though this situation may change. If they do refuse and you need to make a claim, write to the administrators with proof of your vouchers.
“Unfortunately there is no guarantee that you will get the full value back. If you have bought an extended warranty, check the small print carefully. Often it's provided by a third party in which case you shouldn't be affected.
“It is also worth remembering that if you've bought items costing more than £100 on a credit card and the supplier goes bust, you can claim a refund by writing to the credit company.”