Jessops plans to expand its line of own-label products in a bid to improve its profit margin and offer better value to customers.

The project will be overseen by newly appointed commercial director Neil Old, previously commercial director at Best Buy Europe’s Carphone Warehouse.

In an interview with Amateur Photographer, Jessops chief executive Trevor Moore said the firm sees ?exciting opportunity? to boost its margin.

?Some of this can be by working better with our existing suppliers and finding new opportunities ? that can be around bringing new product to market, as well as expanding and evolving our existing range to make us a first choice destination for customers and the best channel to market for our suppliers.?

He added: ?The other side of it is around looking at what?s new and innovative that we can source directly, and bring in ourselves under Jessops own brand name, and realise more commercial opportunity and profitability from.?

Though Jessops does not yet have a specific plan on which new own-label products it will launch, Moore cited existing accessories such as tripods, filters and bags as examples of gear that deliver ?good value and great quality? while, at the same time, earning the business ?increased margin?.

?There are a whole host of things ? I think you go into a camera shop and you say ?wouldn?t that be good if it had a Jessops label on it and could be provided at a better price”?

Moore accepts that Jessops may not offer the cheapest gear but believes this is inevitable given its business model compared to online stores.

?We are always going to have to work very hard to stay focused on price given our overhead? The differentiating factor has to be service and availability.

?Our job is to be very competitive on price. But we are probably not market leading because we have a big overhead to run in terms of the shop base and head office structure which, if I?m running a warehouse and shipping direct, I don?t have.?

Moore sees Jessops stores as playing a key role as Britain?s high street changes.

Asked how the chain can stop customers dropping in for advice and then going online to buy cheaper elsewhere, he extols the benefits of equipping people with cameras that are set up and ready to use before they leave the shop. Staff can also advise consumers on appropriate accessories, for instance.

?There is a reducing number of high-street businesses where customers can look and play with this fabulous technology without interruption and then talk to someone knowledgeable? The high street is diminishing not growing, so I think we have a really important role to play to source that need.?

Jessops, which currently runs 201 stores, does 33-34% of its business online, compared to less than 6% just three years ago. Of these online shoppers, 70% choose to collect at store, said Moore.

Items ordered for collection will already be available at the shop, rather than being shipped from a central warehouse, he explained.

The chain?s latest sales results, to be announced shortly, are expected to show continued improvement.

?Our turnaround and recovery is progressing very well? In the past two months we?ve probably enjoyed the highest market share we?ve seen in recent years??

Much of this revival is thanks to Jessops’ former chairman David Adams who recently stepped down from the board having joined in 2007 when the chain?s survival was reportedly under threat.

?David did a fantastic job, there?s no two ways about it,? said Moore who, as a newcomer to the photo industry when he joined Jessops in 2009, received welcome advice from the chairman.

Adams ? who led Jessops through a debt-for-equity restructure with bank HSBC ? has handed over the reins to new chairman Martyn Everett.

Moore feels it was an ideal time for his colleague to step aside.

?The business is in a different place than it was five years ago when David parachuted in? we have a store portfolio that is relevant, a format that works and a huge online business that we didn?t have.?

Jessops closes four shops ahead of 25-store revamp

Jessops StratfordThe Jessops store at Westfield Stratford City, which opened last year

[Picture credit: C Cheesman]