Jessops has a long way to go before it returns to ?sustainable profitability? but its Christmas sales results mark an ?encouraging step?, according to the group?s executive chairman David Adams.

The high street chain?s Christmas trading figures show that like-for-like sales for the seven weeks to 6 January 2008 were 0.3% ahead of the same period last year.

However, like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks from 1 October 2007 fell 4.7%. Total sales for the period dropped by 24.4%.

?We were prepared for a tough Christmas trading environment and managed the business accordingly,’ said executive chairman David Adams in a statement.

He added: ?We have a clear position in the digital imaging market with a full range of products and services.

‘Much work remains to be done to return the business to sustainable profitability and this performance over the key Christmas period is an encouraging step.?

Total sales over the Christmas period were down 20.6%, mainly due to the 81 store closures announced last year, said the firm.

The group said it has managed to manage stock levels which stand at £34m (as at 6 January 2008), around half the level recorded on 7 January 2007 ((£62m).

It has been a tough year for Jessops. The troubled high street photo chain saw like-for-like sales fall 8.7% for the year to 30 September 2007 and notched up a total loss after tax of £63.5m.

Click below for previous Amateur Photographer reports about Jessops plans:

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Jessops speaks out