Cecil Jacobs in administration
More than 150 jobs are at risk after the UK's largest independent camera retailer collapsed into administration.
Family-run Cecil Jacobs, which was founded more than 70 years ago and operates 19 Jacobs-branded stores, was the latest retailer to be hit by the squeeze on the UK's high streets.
Administrators at PKF said they will continue to run the Leicester-based business, which employs 154 staff, while they seek a buyer, but could not rule out some store closures.
Joint-administrator Eddie Kerr said: "It's desperately sad to see a family-run business such as Cecil Jacobs encounter problems. The company has a rich heritage and loyal customer base, but this has not been enough to see it through the ongoing economic slowdown."
It is understood the business was hit by the squeeze in consumer spending, which has seen many shoppers cut back on non-essential items, while the increasing quality of cameras on mobile phones has also ramped up pressure on the sector.
Cecil Jacobs founded the business in 1939 when he opened a chemist shop in Melton Road, Leicester. He started selling cameras in his second shop in the city in the late 1940s. Mr Jacobs' son joined the company in 1975 and led a change of direction towards his passion for photography.
In 1984, amid booming demand for photography and home video, it opened a superstore, and three years later its first store outside Leicester, in Birmingham. The third generation of the Jacobs family joined in 2005 and propelled the company into online retailing through its jacobsdigital.co.uk website.
The company has three stores in London, two in Leicester and others in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Kingston upon Thames, Glasgow, Hull, Edinburgh, Derby, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.
It was recently reported that fellow-camera retailer Jessops, which operates more than 200 stores, was set to be propped up by a £10 million injection from supplier Canon amid fears its turnaround was in danger of stalling.
Jessops initially reaped the rewards of the boom in digital cameras but it struggled when high street and internet competitors entered the market.