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Published on April 8th, 2021 | by The GC Team


Photographic retail chain moves to employee ownership

The London Camera Exchange, England’s largest chain of independent photographic stores, has moved to employee ownership after 65 years as a family business.

An ownership trust has been set up with trustees comprising employees who will represent the company’s 140-strong workforce.

The transition is being overseen by managing director Nick Richens.

As a predominately high street bricks and mortar business, LCE’s peak turnover before the pandemic was close to £38 million. The initial coronavirus lockdown period had a major impact on the company’s revenue. However, by quickly adapting to online operations and activities such as virtual demonstrations and events, the company was able to maintain a healthy level of business throughout 2020.

The firm has posted a profit for each of the last 10 years, during which time it has grown revenue by 32% against a market decline for consumer cameras of more than 70% in value.

Outgoing owner Steve Hall commented: “While the business is breaking direct links with the family of its founders, we are essentially moving to the ownership of the broader London Camera Exchange family. My father was a great believer in people, and this is something that he would have wanted. I am pleased to be able to pass over the business to its loyal employee family in such great shape.”

Nick Richens will become chief executive of the new company, with current director Lee Harasyn stepping into the role of managing director. Shop managers and staff will continue in their existing roles.

LCE plans to expand its high street portfolio with the opening of a new store when non-essential shops begin trading again after lockdown. The new premises will be located in Park Street, Bristol.

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