Job losses at Bristol office of internet firm
AT least 60 people face losing their jobs at companies in the Bristol area.
Around 30 people at on-line retailer Play.com have already been made redundant after the company closed its Bristol office.
And another 30 workers are facing a bleak future after camera chain Jessops, which has three shops in Bristol and one in Weston- super-Mare, went into administration. The administrators, accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, said they would try to save the business but warned store closures were inevitable.
Jessops has 192 stores and around 2,000 staff across the UK. Its Bristol branches are in Broadmead, Whiteladies Road and Cribbs Causeway, while the Weston branch is in the town's High Street.
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A PWC spokesman said the company was experiencing a continuing decline in its "core marketplace" and said things had got worse in the run-up to Christmas.
The firm is no longer able to pay its debts and the administrators have confirmed that, although its shops are expected to stay open as discussions to save the business go on, staff will no longer be able to accept vouchers or returned items.
Rob Hunt, PWC joint administrator and partner, said: "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 but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions.
"However, in the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures."
The collapse of Jessops is the latest in a series of failures among beleaguered high street retailers.
Comet went out business just before Christmas, with loss of around 400 jobs in the Bristol area.
Jessops, which has its headquarters in Leicester, has suffered in recent years from online competition and the boom in camera phones, which has hit demand for digital cameras.
Play.com said yesterday it was making 147 people redundant in Bristol, Cambridge and at its Channel Islands headquarters.
The Government has closed a tax loophole, which previously meant that Channel Islands-based firms did not have to charge VAT on items including DVDs, CDs and computer games. As a result, the firm announced it was closing its retail business with immediate effect. It will continue to run its website for independent traders to list items for sale.
A spokesperson said: "Moving forward, we are intending to focus exclusively on our successful marketplace, which is our main business area, and to phase out the direct retail part of our business."
Many retailers had complained that the VAT loophole gave Play.com and other companies using the Channel Islands an unfair advantage, so the Government agreed to get rid of the so-called Low Value Consignment Relief.
Last September the authorities in Jersey said at least 400 people had lost their jobs in the Channel Islands because of the end of the tax relief.
A Play.com spokesperson confirmed the changes meant the firm is pulling out of Jersey but about 200 staff would be left in the restructured company, which will have its head office in Cambridge.
Play.com was taken over by Japanese online firm Rakuten in September.
The new owners paid £25 million for the company, which at the time had 14 million registered users and was one of the largest online retailers in the UK.