Will Peter and his Team Click?

Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones has swooped in to buy the brand of collapsed high street photography chain Jessops, which called in administrators at the start of January 2013.
Peter Jones, who amassed his fortune in the communications sector, will run Jessops, which was headquartered in Leicester, as a purely online venture.

PwC partner Rob Hunt said: “We can confirm that we have sold the brand and certain other assets to a number of buyers, including entrepreneur Peter Jones CBE.”

Jessops, which was founded in Leicester in 1935 by Frank Jessop,became the first victim of the UK High Street recession in 2013 when Hunt was appointed as joint administrator, along with Edward Williams and Matthew Hammond, on 9 January 2013. The retail chain was closely followed by HMV, which called in Deloitte.

The photography chain had suffered against online competition for a number of years, avoiding collapse in 2009 when HSBC took a stake in the company in exchange for reducing its debts.

All Jessops’ 187 Stores closed within days of PwC’s appointment, with the loss of 1,370 jobs nationwide. Almost 80 staff at the head office in Leicester were also made redundant later in the week, bringing the total jobs losses in the Midlandsto about 200.

Jessops had a turnover in the year to 31 December 2012 of £236m, the administrators said when the company collapsed. However, its core marketplace had seen a significant decline in 2012 and forecasts for 2013 indicated the rot would continue.

One of the biggest challenges that face any new online enterprise, is the effect of cheap imports from counties like China. Online business will soon account for the majority of sales within the UKif current trends continue, but this does nothing to increase the prosperity ofBritain’s High Street which will continue to spiral if nothing is done to reduce overheads for those remaining businesses that face competition from online companies.

House prices show first annual rise in two years

It has been reported today, that Halifax says house prices rose 1.3% year-on-year, despite falling 0.2% in January 2013. House prices have recorded their strongest quarterly rise in three years in a further sign that efforts to kick-start the market are working, according to figures from mortgage lender Halifax.

Despite a 0.2% drop in January, the bank said house prices had risen by 1.9% over the quarter, the biggest jump since January 2010. The figures also showed the first annual increase in more than two years, with prices rising 1.3% year-on-year. Its annual growth figures are based on quarterly year-on-year figures.

The market has been buoyed in recent months by increased mortgage lending, the apparent result of the government’s Funding for Lending scheme which launched in August 2012.

The latest data from the Bank of England show mortgage approvals for house purchases rose for a fifth month running to an 11-month high of 55,785 in December, and lenders have indicated they intend to make more loans available in the coming months.

It seems that rising mortgage approval numbers point to further increases in home sales in the coming months. The Funding for Lending scheme has helped lenders to lower interest rates and improve availability in the past few months. This is likely to have been a factor contributing to the pick-up in both home sales and prices.

However, the outlook for the UK economy and house prices is more unclear than usual. We still have subdued economic growth and pressures on household finances are expected to constrain housing demand. Overall, we might
expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally throughout the year.

According to Halifax’s latest index, which is based on mortgages approved by the bank, the average price of a UK property stood at £162,932 in January. This is very close to the average price reported by rival lender Nationwide, which reported a 0.5% rise in January to £162,245. However, it said prices had not moved over 12 months.

The chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, has been reported as saying that this highlights the fact that house prices can be erratic from month-to-month and between indices. Consequently, it is best to try and form an overview of the housing market from all of the latest available data and surveys. Overall, the evidence suggests that house prices have firmed moderately as activity has picked up modestly from the lows seen around mid-2012.

In short we can suggest therefore that whilst there is activity due to pent-up demand caused by the frustrations of this static market we will see some activity, but there appears to be nothing substantial to mark any end of the recession. Therefore continue to search the Market for those bargains, they are there. Then get in touch for real property advice from Andrew O’Dowd and his Team.