Dragons' Den Star Peter Jones Buys Failed Jessops Brand

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By Jerin Mathew | February 1, 2013 5:14 PM EST

Men stand outside a Jessops shop in central London

A group of investors including BBC's Dragons' Den star, Peter Jones, has purchased the collapsed camera retailing brand Jessops, according to the retailer's administrators.

On 9 January, Robert Jonathan Hunt and Matthew David Hammond of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) were appointed as joint administrators of The Jessop Group. The camera retail chain closed all its 187 stores in the UK two days later, with the loss of 1,370 jobs.

"We can confirm we have sold the brand and certain other assets to a number of buyers including entrepreneur Peter Jones CBE," PwC said.

The financials of the deal, which is thought to have included patents, trademarks and leftover stocks, are not disclosed.

Nevertheless, the closed stores are not expected to open again following the purchase. It is widely believed that Jones wants to remodel the business, complementing to his Expansys, the listed online retailer of technology products.

Founded in Leicester in 1935 by Frank Jessop, Jessops had suffered competition from online retailers and the general weak trading conditions on the UK's high street. Demand for digital cameras has declined due to the recent boom in camera phones, while online retailers put the company into trouble with better discounts to customers.

Despite additional funding by lenders, the retailer's inability to generate the expected amount of business, especially during the Christmas season, resulted in a credit squeeze in the supplier base, making its operations difficult.

Following the company's collapse, which was the first high-street casualty of 2013, restructuring specialist Hilco was said to be in discussions with the administrators about acquiring the Jessops brand.

Entrepreneur Jones ones originally made his fortune through phone business Phones International Group. He has been an ever-present on the BBC's Dragon's Den programme since it started in 2005. Earlier, he has made a tie-up with Hinckley sock maker HJ Hall in Leicestershire.

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