Staff at the Jessops branch in Queen Street are among hundreds of employees waiting to hear details of redundancies planned as part of a massive shake-up of the debt-laden business.
Jessops, which has more than 200 outlets UK-wide, is in talks with its advisers and HSBC about a “fundamental restructuring” of its £60m debts.
A successful outcome of the process is likely to leave shareholders with nothing – while the company said there would also be a “number of redundancies” across its stores.
Jessops said it was too early to comment on the impact of the programme, which is on track to be completed by the end of July.
Jessops has reduced head office staff from 375 to 125 in the past two years, while in February the company closed another 21 stores.
It axed its other Huddersfield branch – at New Street – more than a year ago as part of an earlier programme of branch closures.
The update came as Jessops – the UK’s largest photographic retailer – reported half-year losses of £6.3m for the six months to March 31. Like-for-like sales fell by 4%, although the trend in the subsequent eight weeks has been more encouraging with a drop of 3.6%.
The Leicester-based company said: “Our discussions with HSBC are ongoing and we are working together towards a solvent solution. However, due to the historic high level of debt, the board believes that it is unlikely that any value will be attributed to shareholders.”
Jessops said a loan repayment of £3m due this week had been waived by the bank until September, 2010, when a separate £4m repayment is also due. Another £5m is due to be paid in May, 2011.
Chairman David Adams, who joined the business in 2007, said the board was working hard in “extremely challenging conditions” to secure a successful future for the brand.
He said: “We have reduced costs wherever possible, worked closely with suppliers and explored a range of options to deliver a sustainable future for Jessops.”
Half-year operating expenses fell by 8.5% to £40.7m as a result of cost savings.