Ashurst and SNR Denton take lead roles on Jessops administration

Ashurst and SNR Denton have been appointed to advise on the administration of camera seller Jessops.

The news comes after PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partners Edward Williams, Rob Hunt and Matthew Hammond were appointed as administrators to the troubled high street retailer today (9 January).

Ashurst, the historic adviser to Jessops, is currently advising the company, fielding a team led by corporate partner Giles Boothman.

SNR Denton restructuring and disputes partner Rachel Anthony is acting for the PwC trio, as well as for the company’s sole lender and part-owner HSBC.

Both Ashurst and SNR Denton are poised to take joint roles advising the administrators.

Jessops, which had 192 stores and around 2,000 employees across the UK, issued a statement today highlighting market decline and forecasts for 2013 pointing to a continuation of this trend.

The company said: “Despite additional funding being made available to the company by the funders, [the market decline] has meant that Jessops has not generated the profits it had planned with a consequent impact on its funding needs. This was exacerbated by a credit squeeze in the supplier base.”

Hunt added: “Our most pressing task is to review the company’s financial position and hold discussions with its principal stakeholders to see if the business can be preserved. Trading in the stores is hoped to continue today but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions. However, in the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures.”

The company also confirmed that it could not currently honour customer vouchers or accept returned goods.

Background to this deal:

Ashurst and SNR Denton both have a record of advising opposite each other on Jessops matters. Jessops avoided administration in 2009 through a debt-for-equity swap with lender HSBC, which was advised by SNR Denton, while Ashurst’s Boothman acted for Jessops.

Jessops delisted from the London Stock Exchange in 2010.

Its administration marks the latest casuality on the UK high street, with Comet filing for administration late last year. Bingham McCutchen, Eversheds, Macfarlanes, Mayer Brown and SNR Denton have been advising the electricals retailer’s administrators at Deloitte (19 December 2012).