After last week’s bad news about Jessops, it’s nice to start this week on a high with the announcement that London Camera Exchange is moving to employee ownership as the stores prepare to reopen.
It means that the specialist photographic retail chain will be owned by the 140-strong workforce via Ownership Trust. Further good news is that the company has seen a 32% increase in revenue over the last 10 years in an industry that has seen a consumer market decline of over 70%.
England’s largest chain of independent photographic stores originally planned to move to employee ownership last March but the transition was delayed by the Covid pandemic and it will now be completed at the end of March 2021. After 65 years as a family business, an Employee Ownership Trust has been set up with trustees consisting of employees who will represent the LCE workforce.
LCE’s outgoing owner Steve Hall commented, “While the business is breaking direct links with the family of its founders, we are essentially moving to the ownership of the broader London Camera Exchange family. My father was a great believer in people, and this is something that he would have wanted. I am pleased to be able to pass over the business to its loyal employee family in such great shape.”
The current Managing Director, Nick Richens, is overseeing the transition and will become the Chief Executive of the new company, while the current director, Lee Harasyn takes up the role of Managing Director.
London Camera Exchange is a predominately high street bricks and mortar business, which means the initial lockdown period had a significant impact on the company’s revenue. However, the company swiftly moved to online operations and it was able to maintain a healthy level of business throughout 2020.
Once the transition has taken place, shop managers and staff will all continue in their existing roles, but with the greater engagement and commitment that employee ownership brings.
Even more good news is that once non-essential shops are permitted to reopen, London Camera Exchange plans to open a new store in Park Street, Bristol.