The former chairman of Jessops David Adams has criticised the collapsed camera specialist’s largest shareholder HSBC for dismissing “out of hand” a private equity-backed approach he claimed he made for the business last summer.
Adams, who exited Jessops last February, said the camera specialist’s administration yesterday was “avoidable”.
“After I left, I put together an approach to buy the business, that would have left the banks at par, backed by private equity,” said Adams. “They were not interested in any discussions as they felt there was equity value to be realised in the future. Now six months on the business is in administration.”
Adams - who led a debt for equity swap with HSBC in 2009 that saved Jessops from administration - said last summer he, along with his private equity backers, offered to buy the debt from HSBC, which was understood to stand at about £30m.
However, a spokesman for HSBC said: “HSBC has not received any creditable approach to purchase its debt and / or equity positions in Jessops.”
Adams, who is a non-executive director of both Halfords and HMV, said that while he would not have described the approach as a “slam dunk” deal, he said he found it “extraordinary that they wouldn’t even talk about it. It was dismissed out of hand”.
However, as revealed by Retail Week, Jessops collapsed into administration yesterday, threatening 2,000 jobs. Adams said he found it “surprising that given the offer only six months ago” HSBC did not approach him before the administrators were called in.
“It’s quite probable that the value of the business has now been destroyed,” he said.
Adams blamed damage done to supplier relationships in the last year.
“It’s a desperately sad day for retail,” he told Retail Week. “Fundamentally it’s a very good business.”
Adams said he has been approached by private equity firms in the last 24 hours about potentially buying Jessops out of administration.
“Lots of people have approached me, but I don’t know how bad the damage has been to suppliers,” said Adams.
As a result, he said he did not know if it was possible to turn around Jessops. “I don’t know if it’s doable,” he said.
UPDATED: Jessops collapses into administration, store closures expected
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Former Jessops chairman David Adams blasts HSBC over collapse