May 6, 2010: Former owner Fujifilm has confirmed that the Rabbit chain of photo stores is no more.
Fujifilm managing director Dave Marshall last year set a June, 2010, date for closing down the chain. By early 2010 there were just 18 Rabbit stores remaining, according to a recent report in Inside Retailing, and they had all shut their doors by the end of April.
Four of those stores – Miranda, Shellharbour and Erina in NSW, and Belconnen in ACT – have been purchased by photo dealers and rebranded.
A fifth store at Leichhardt closed after negotiations with a potential buyer stalled, according to Inside Retailing.
At its peak, the Rabbit chain had 165 outlets and employed around 850 people, but it’s been closing stores for around five years.
The majority of stores were shut through 2008/2009. Marshall said the closure of Rabbit stores was part of a worldwide strategy for Fujifilm, with the Rabbit chain being the last retail assets of the corporation.
With Fujifilm’s leading Australian customers, Big W and Harvey Norman, offering the cheapest photographic prints in the world using Fujifilm equipment, paper and chemistry, operating competing specialist outlets has become a strategic absurdity.
The inability of specialist dealers to compete on price and promotional reach with Fujifilm’s larger customers led to disinterest among potential buyers. Hugh Eastwood, the astute former manager of the group, declined to take up an offer from Fujifilm. He continues to run seven Eastmon Digital stores in northern NSW and is also involved with Rob Tolmie in the giant Photo Create wholesale fulfilment centre in Glenn Innes.
Eastwood noted last year that Big W in particular harmed the Rabbit group when it introduced 15 cents prints.