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To be fair, our local Jessops store was generally staffed with knowledgable staff. But I don't think that in itself is enough nowadays to compete with online retailers such as Amazon and even further afield.
In fact, the entire market has shifted and Jessops has been unable to move along with it. The smartphone has killed off the compact market. Most people are happy with their phone for snapshots.
And people at the upper end of the market (DSLR & mirrorless) would simply go into Jessops, pick the brains of the staff before buying it from Amazon saving themselves possibly hundreds.
It's a real shame. But take for example the new Nikon D600. It's £1450 online from the website which is a price I doubt they make any margin on. Yet I can get it shipped from Hong Kong and delivered in 3-4 working days for £1100. In the current climate, how many of us can afford to throw £300 away to support local business?
I used to work for them, and when I first started they were great. The training was good, the staff were given good incentives, they knew their market.
Then they got floated on the stock market and it all went tits up.
Training vanished. Staff incentives were changed, so rather than being incentivised to sell the right items to people you were incentivised to sell only what got the highest profit. Which, while it looks right on paper, actually just means that customers stop trusting you! Especially when you are trying to tell them that your advice is unbiased! The fact that I saw good staff punished by that new system shows how flawed it was. Unsurprisingly people started leaving in droves. I know stores where there'd be an exodus of staff, staff who'd been faithful to Jessops for years. Instead they'd get replaced by a stream of minimum wage staff who didn't care about photography or customers.
Head office were always sending ridiculous directives down.
I worked the lab and used to close it for half a day to run essential maintenance. I did this on the quietest day of the week, at the quietest part of the day. Until I was told that I was no longer allowed, and could only do the maintenance when the store was shut. The catch? They wouldn't pay me beyond 6pm.
The other lab staff I met reported the same, many of us left. I don't imagine the print quality remained so high, it couldn't with unmaintained machinery.
Competing with the internet was always going to be hard on Jessops, but rather than focus on the things they could offer that the net never ever could (advice, help, hands on demonstrations, etc) they stripped away their reputation as a company with a love of photography and instead decided to try and be more like Dixons and Argos.
And they were warned by their staff more than once.
The idiots running the company even did a tour of the stores and spoke to the staff. I remember it clearly. I remember the fact that they didn't listen to a word any of us said, instead looking over our shoulders while smiling with pure insincerity.
And now people are losing their jobs.
Well done Jessops HQ. You fucked up.
I'm so sorry Jessops employees, you don't deserve this.