Retailer to move away from cameras and shift focus to framing
A WELL-KNOWN northern Lincolnshire retailer has stopped selling the products that it first launched with.
Tom Dennis, in Scunthorpe, will no longer sell cameras – breaking a tradition of 31 years – blaming a gradual decline in sales.
Instead, it will focus entirely on printing, enlarging and framing photographs, and will rent that part of the shop out to increase income.
However, fellow traders in North East Lincolnshire say they are determined to continue their camera-selling heritage.
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Lee Dennis, the owner of Tom Dennis, said: “The store has been selling cameras for more than 30 years, but it is finally time to call it a day.
“There are only 150 professional photographic dealers in the UK, and 13 of those – including us – have given up selling cameras since the start of 2011.
“Over the last year our efforts have been slowly shifting towards printing, enlarging and framing, but we still stocked cameras as well. But profitability has become so slim that we were better off cutting our losses.”
He added that he believed other similar outlets would also be feeling the effects of falling camera sales.
He said: “Other stores like mine will begin to suffer, and I can even see the big chains having problems soon.
“The camera industry is heavily involved with Japanese businesses, and there are often different interests when it comes to trade.
“Stores like mine are focused on sustainable long-term business, a view that can often differ to overseas companies.
“We have also had messages from Japanese suppliers, informing us that many of the factories that provide camera stocks have been hit by the recent disaster.
“Many of our components are made in Japan, such as Sandisk, Canon and Sigma products. The tragic situation there has left much of their business in tatters, and will inevitably have a knock-on effect here.
“There will be no immediate impact to UK businesses because they should have significant stock piles. The key concern in this situation is the welfare and safety of those in Japan.”
Online sales of cameras are also making it hard for high street stores to compete. Online discounts and wider stock ranges mean that people can get more competitive prices more conveniently from their home.
Mr Dennis added: “We are lucky here to have the printing and framing facilities to fall back on. It is still a shock to us that we will no longer be selling cameras, and the name of the company was changed a while ago to Tom Dennis Imaging instead of Tom Dennis Cameras.”
Mark Comley, owner of Comley’s Cameras in Cleethorpes, said margins for retailers were constantly being driven down by competition from the internet.
But he said his company had no intention of stopping selling cameras any time soon.
“It’s getting harder all the time and the internet is forcing margins down. A lot of camera shops are going bust.
“But we are still selling an incredible amount of cameras. We have got a very strong customer base, and some customers travel from as far as Birmingham and Newcastle.
“We are a very well-established local company and our staff have got a lot of knowledge and expertise because they have been in the business for a long time.
“Having said that, we offer a lot of other services, such as digital printing and large format printing, which are more profitable than selling cameras.”