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Jessops to close 81 stores

Photographic retailer Jessops has announced plans to close over a quarter of its stores after posting a pre-tax loss in the six months to April.In a statement today the company said the decision to close 81 of its shops had been taken following a strategic review of the business.Of the stores which are due for closure, 47 overlap with other Jessops shops, 31 are loss-making and three are subject to redevelopment, the Leicester firm revealed.Jessops, which said that 234 of its stores will remain open following the reorganisation, stressed that the move was being undertaken in order to reduce its central costs by 20 per cent.Around 550 jobs are to be lost across the group as part of plans to reduce total overheads by £15 million.The company, which has issued two profit warnings this year, subsequently expects its full-year pre-tax loss to increase from £5 million, with disruption caused by the reorganisation estimated to slash the profits of Jessops stores by around £1.5 million over the summer trading period.In the 26 weeks to April 1st Jessops posted a pre-tax loss, excluding non-recurring items, of £8.5 million, compared to a profit of £5.1 million in the previous year.A £66.5 million banking facility with HSBC has been secured until December 2008 by the company, whose traditional developing and film camera business has been hit by the growing popularity of digital photography.Nonetheless Jessops executive chairman David Adams stressed the company remained confident about its future prospects."These facilities will provide us with the opportunity over the next 18 months to build a solid platform for the long term," Mr Adams said."The board is confident that Jessops will deliver a significant turnaround in its financial performance," he added.

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