THERE was good news on the shops and jobs front in Basingstoke town centre this week.
The Jessops unit, in Castle Square, is currently being fitted-out to start trading again.
The well-known popular photography chain, which was a fixture on many high streets, went into administration in January with the closure of 187 stores.
However, the retailer is set to rise from the ashes after it was acquired by Dragons’ Den entrepren-eur Peter Jones.
In March, he reopened two flagship stores, one in London’s Oxford Street and another in Birmingham. Then, over the Easter weekend, Jessops Europe Limited as it is now known, opened four other stores in Manchester, High Wycombe, St Albans and Aberdeen.
It is anticipated that the Basingstoke store will open shortly, employing 10 to 12 people.
Mr Jones, right, the new company’s chairman and chief executive, expects to open around 30 stores this month, creating up to 500 jobs.
It is believed that in all, up to 36 stores will reopen after a £4million makeover.
The re-launched company is forecasting sales of at least £80m in its first year, which it said will give it 15 per cent of the digital single-lens reflex camera market.
Mr Jones said: “Britain’s high street is fighting back – the facts show it, and I am giving my personal commitment to its resurgence by re-opening the doors of one of Britain’s most historic retailers.
“I believe Jessops is an iconic British brand which can lead the retail resurgence on Britain’s high streets, powered by new innovations and world-leading, expert staff.
“Image is everything, and even in the mobile and tablet era, there’s no substitute for a quality camera when it comes to taking the perfect picture.
“Jessops’ hallmark expertise and customer service will now be available again to customers across the UK. I’m convinced the great British public will get behind Jessops.”
News of the revival of the 78-year-old retailer coincides with the announcement that HMV is to stay in business in Festival Place.
Last Friday, administrators Deloitte confirmed the sale of HMV’s UK retail business to restructur-ing specialist Hilco UK, saving 141 stores and securing 2,643 jobs.
Nick Edwards, one of the joint administrators at Deloitte, said: “The sale of the restructured port-folio saves one of the world's most iconic retail brands and provides a solid financial footing on which the business can be taken forward.
“We wish the Hilco UK and HMV teams every success with the business. I would like to thank all those stakeholders that have worked with us during the administration, but in particular the staff, suppliers and landlords for their support in making this deal possible.”
It is believed that the chain was sold for £50m, although Hilco and Deloitte have declined to comment on the sale price. When HMV went into administration, the chain operated 222 stores, 81 of which have closed.