AROUND 2,000 jobs at camera chain Jessops are under threat after the group collapsed into administration today, with a warning that store closures are “inevitable”.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been appointed to the group, which is Britain’s only specialist nationwide camera retailer, with nearly 200 stores, including branches in Ipswich Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Lowestoft, Chelmsford, Cambridge and Norwich.

It marks the first high-profile retail collapse of 2013 and comes soon after consumer electricals chain Comet hit the wall, sparking more than 6,000 job losses.

Jessops, which has its headquarters in Leicester, has suffered in recent years from online competition and the boom in camera phones, which has hit demand for digital cameras.

It underwent a major overhaul in 2007 and a swathe of store closures, but came close to collapse two years later before being rescued by its main lender HSBC in a controversial debt-for-equity swap that saw it taken off the stock market.

The bank took a 50% stake in the business in return for writing off £34 million of loans.

There was speculation last year that suppliers such as Canon were considering injecting cash into Jessops to help prop the business up, but no deal materialised.

Rob Hunt, joint administrator and a partner at PwC said today: “Over the last few days the directors, funders and key suppliers have been in discussions as regards additional consensual financial support for the business.

“However these discussions have not been successful. In light of these irreconcilable differences the directors decided to appoint administrators and we were appointed earlier today.

“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.”

“Finally, at present Jessops is not in a position to honour customer vouchers or to accept returned goods,” he added.

Jessops last year also suffered the loss of its chief executive Trevor Moore, who left to head up HMV, as well as its chairman David Adams.

Martyn Everett was then appointed as chairman and Neil Old was promoted to lead the business as chief operating officer.

The firm began life in 1935 when Frank Jessop opened his first shop in Leicester.

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