Five questions answered on the collapse of Jessops

Thousands of jobs at risk.

Another high street store admits defeat and announces it is to go into administration putting thousands of jobs at risk. We answer five questions on Jessops’ decision to close.

What reason has Jessops given for its planned closure?

The high street camera store says it is being forced into closure after leading camera makers, such as Canon and Nikon, have tightened the terms on which they sell products to the company following a downturn in the market.

Unless Jessops can whip up a deal with suppliers the company said closure by the end of the week would be inevitable.

Companies that supply Jessop are said to be concerned about the state of the electrical sector after the collapse of Comet last year, plus Jessops failed to increase its 2012 sales from the previous year.

How many jobs will be sacrificed in Jessops closure? 

In its 192 stores Jessops employs about 2,000 staff who will all lose their jobs if stores close.

However, those who are members of the Jessops’ pension scheme are said to be protected because it was adopted by the Government’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF) in 2009.

Who else will be a loser?

HSBC who co-own the company because the bank stands to lose £30 that Jessops owes HSBC. In total Jessops is estimated to have debts of £60m, including £30m of trade debt and the HSBC debt.

HSBC tried to strike a deal with suppliers to ease Jessops’ financial burden but to no avail.

What has Jessops’ spokespeople said about the company’s closure?

Rob Hunt, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who have been appointed as administrator of Jessops, told the BBC: "Our most pressing task is to review the company's financial position and hold discussions with its principal stakeholders to see if the business can be preserved.

"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."

It’s not a good start to 2013, who could be next?

It’s hard to say, but online entertainment retailer Play.com succumbed on Wednesday; the second biggest casualty of 2013. The retailer will make more than 200 redundancies.

Although there is no suggestion of closure, Marks and Spencers reported a 1.8 per cent drop in like for like trading figures in the 13 weeks to 29 December on the same period a year earlier.

Last year casualties included Comet, Clinton Cards, JJB Sports and Game Group.

Another high street store admits defeat. Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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What Brussels can learn from the Italian referendum

Matteo Renzi's proposed reforms would have made it easier for eurosceptic forces within Italy to gain power in upcoming elections in 2018.

The Austrian presidential elections can justifiably be claimed as a victory for supporters of the European Union. But the Italian referendum is not the triumph for euroscepticism some have claimed.

In Austria, the victorious candidate Alexander van der Bellen ruthlessly put the EU centre stage in his campaign. “From the beginning I fought and argued for a pro-European Austria,” he said after a campaign that saw posters warning against “Öxit”.

Austrians have traditionally been eurosceptic, only joining the bloc in 1995, but Brexit changed all that.  Austrian voters saw the instability in the UK and support for EU membership soared. An overwhelming majority now back continued membership.

Van der Bellen’s opponent Norbert Hofer was at an immediate disadvantage. His far right Freedom Party has long pushed for an Öxit referendum.

The Freedom Party has claimed to have undergone a Damascene conversion but voters were not fooled.  They even blamed Nigel Farage for harming their chances with an interview he gave to Fox News claiming that the party would push to leave the EU.

The European Commission, as one would expect, hailed the result. “Europe was central in the campaign that led to the election of a new president and the final result speaks for itself,” chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said today in Brussels.

“We think the referendum in Italy was about a change to the Italian constitution and not about Europe,” Schinas added.

Brussels has a history of sticking its head in the sand when it gets political results it doesn’t like.

When asked what lessons the Commission could learn from Brexit, Schinas had said the lessons to be learnt were for the government that called the referendum.

But in this case, the commission is right. The EU was a peripheral issue compared to domestic politics in the Italian referendum.

Alberto Alemanno is Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and an Italian. He said the reforms would have been vital to modernise Italy but rejected any idea it would lead to an Italian Brexit.

“While anti-establishment and eurosceptic actors are likely to emerge emboldened from the vote, interpreting the outcome of the Italian referendum as the next stage of Europe’s populist, anti-establishment movement – as many mainstream journalists have done – is not only factually wrong, but also far-fetched.”

Renzi was very popular in Brussels after coming to power in a palace coup in February 2014. He was a pro-EU reformer, who seemed keen to engage in European politics.

After the Brexit vote, he was photographed with Merkel and Hollande on the Italian island of Ventotene, where a landmark manifesto by the EU’s founding fathers was written.

This staged communion with the past was swiftly forgotten as Renzi indulged in increasingly virulent Brussels-bashing over EU budget flexibility in a bid to shore up his plummeting popularity. 

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker even publicly reprimanded Renzi for demonising the EU.

Renzi’s vow to resign personalised the referendum. He gave voters a chance to give him a bloody nose when his popularity was at an all-time low.

Some of the reforms he wanted were marked “to be confirmed”.  The referendum question was astonishingly verbose and complex. He was asking for a blank cheque from the voters.

Ironically Renzi’s reforms to the constitution and senate would have made it easier for the eurosceptic Five Star Movement to gain power in upcoming elections in 2018.

For reasons best known to themselves, they campaigned against the changes to their own disadvantage.

Thanks to the reforms, a Five Star government would have found it far easier to push through a “Quitaly” referendum, which now seems very distant.  

As things stand, Five Star has said it would push for an advisory vote on membership of the euro but not necessarily the EU.

The Italian constitution bans the overruling of international treaties by popular vote, so Five Star would need to amend the constitution. That would require a two thirds majority in both houses of parliament and then another referendum on euro membership. Even that could be blocked by one of the country’s supreme courts.

The Italian referendum was closely watched in Brussels. It was hailed as another triumph for euroscepticism by the likes of Farage and Marine Le Pen. But Italians are far more likely to be concerned about the possibility of financial turbulence, which has so far been mildly volatile, than any prospect of leaving the EU in the near future.

James Crisp is the news editor at EurActiv.com.