A TRADERS group has called for retailers to work together after the latest collapse of a high street store.
Camera chain Jessops, which has a branch in Sunderland city centre, became the first high-profile retail casualty of 2013 when it called in administrators on Wednesday – putting 2,000 jobs at risk.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was appointed administrator after funding talks with Jessops’ bank and suppliers collapsed, warned store closures were “inevitable”.
The Leicester-based group has suffered from online competition and the boom in camera phones in recent years, hitting demand for digital cameras.
Sunderland City Centre Traders’ Association spokesman Giles McCourt said the news was proof things times were still hard on the high street.
“It has been a tough trading period for both national and independent retailers,” he said.
“It is always sad to see another national retailer leave Sunderland and hopefully a buyer can be found and Jessops can remain in Fawcett Street.”
The association was launched last year with the aim of giving city centre businesses a united voice, and 2013 was set to be a busy year.
“We have things planned for the coming months that may assist our members and boost their trade,” said Mr McCourt, who works for city solicitor Mortons.
“We are keen to bring in more members this year. The more people we have as members of the association, the more we can do.
“And we want to hear from our members about they think we can do to bring more business into the city centre.”
Retail analyst Nick Bubb said competition from smart phones and online retailers meant Jessops’ administration was “probably inevitable”.
The firm has struggled since 2007, when it underwent a major overhaul with a swathe of store closures, and came close to collapse two years later.
The collapse of Jessops comes after consumer electricals chain Comet hit the wall last year, sparking more than 6,000 job losses.