ABN AMRO Capital has completed the secondary buyout of specialist photographic retailer Jessops, following clearance from the European Competition authorities.

The GBP116 million deal sees ABN AMRO Capital acquire the company from private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, which has backed Jessops since the original management buy-in / buyout in 1996.

Jessops operated 70 stores at that time, a number that has more than tripled in six years to the company’s current portfolio of 238. In the three years to September 30, 2002, sales have increased by 94 per cent to GBP240 million, and EBIT by 73 per cent to GBP13 million.

The company is at the forefront of one of the highest growth areas in the retail industry, digital cameras. The UK photo imaging market has increased to an estimated GBP2.1 billion over the last five years, and the year to September 30, 2002 saw sales of digital products at Jessops grow by 47 per cent.

Jessops was the first high street retailer to offer developing and printing of digital images, and plans to offer the service in all its stores by the end of 2002.

The company is now jointly owned by management, and by funds managed by ABN AMRO Capital. HSBC, which supported the original buyout in 1996, has arranged and underwritten the acquisition and working capital facilities.

Jessops chief executive Derek Hine says: “The last five years have seen us develop an extremely successful business that has capitalised on the large and still growing interest in digital imaging products and services. We remain firmly focused on building on the strong position we have established with the opening of a further 26 UK stores in the next two years, the introduction of new services and product ranges, and a move into mainland Europe where significant opportunities exist.”

Founded in 1935, the company remained a family business until 1996 when it was the subject of management buy-in / buyout, with equity funds provided by Bridgepoint Capital, PPM Ventures, and management.