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Jessops Reopens on London’s Oxford Street Led by ‘Dragons’ Star

Jessops, the U.K. camera chain that collapsed in January, reopened a store on London’s Oxford Street as buyer Peter Jones of “Dragons’ Den” television fame said the retailer promised “a change in how we shop.”

“The potential is huge” as Jessops tries to convince customers to gather information about products, order online and come to a store to get their goods, aided by workers who can explain how to use the equipment, Jones said today in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Jones, a member of a panel of entrepreneurs who evaluate investment proposals on “Dragons’ Den,” acknowledged it’s a tough time to restart a retailer because disposable income is “strained” in Britain. Business collapses in the U.K. last year included the Comet electronics chain, JJB Sports Plc and Clinton Cards Plc. Even so, “people still want to shop and walk into a store,” Jones said.

The telecom entrepreneur acquired Jessops after administrators said in January they would close all 187 outlets as sales declined and were expected to drop further. The retailer planned 1,370 job eliminations at stores, plus further losses at the head office in Leicester, England, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a Jan. 11 statement.

Jessops opened stores in London and Birmingham today, and will add an outlet a day in April, Jones said. The retailer will operate fewer shops, “but will cover the U.K.”

The stores will have prices that match the online offer, with the benefit that shoppers can choose to order online and pick up their purchase in store, where knowledgeable sales people can help demonstrate how to use products, Jones said.

“What we’re doing could be the start of a change in how we shop,” he said, while noting that “click and collect” is offered by others and that Apple Inc. has revolutionized in-store sampling of technology. Jessops’s future “is very much touch and feel.”

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