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Edinburgh Woollen Mill to expand while Jessops closes on Inverness High Street

By Ian Duncan

The Jessops branch in Inverness closed its doors this week. Picture: James MacKenzie.
The Jessops branch in Inverness closed its doors this week. Picture: James MacKenzie.

IT was a case of good news and bad news for Inverness city centre this week, as it was revealed one business is set to expand while another chain has closed its city store.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill in High Street will move to Bridge Street, with the existing shop retained and rebranded under the Gleneagles brand name. This will bring the number of Inverness outlets owned by the company to four, including James Pringle and Hector Russell, which are also in Bridge Street.

Mike Smith, manager of Inverness Business Improvement District (Bid), said renovations had already started on the former Poundstrechers store ahead of Edinburgh Wollen Mill’s move there and added: “It shows their faith in the tourist market in Inverness and the growth in the tourist market in the city.”

It is expected that the new branch will be open by the end of this month.

However, the Highland capital’s branch of photographic chain Jessops, also in the High Street, was one of 15 stores to be closed nationwide this week.

The news was confirmed by a company spokeswoman, though no reason was given for the sudden closure.

On Wednesday, the shutters were down and a To Let board was attached to the building. A notice in the window advised customers with outstanding orders to either contact 0344 800444 or visit the nearest alternative store – in Aberdeen.

Mr Smith said the closure was thought to be linked to Jessops’ struggle to adapt to a changing marketplace.

He said: “It is a national issue for the chain – the issue is people not needing specialised equipment now because of mobile phones.”

Jessops was founded as a specialist photographic retailer by Frank Jessop in 1935 and later expanded to major towns and cities across the UK.

However, the firm later faced financial problems and went into administration in January 2013 – with the loss of 1370 jobs and the closure of all its 187 stores.

By the end of that month the brand, together with various assets, had been acquired by Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Peter Jones with six stores reopening within weeks and further stores including the Inverness branch following in subsequent months.

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