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New management and focus at Camera House

Camera House has launched a number of initiatives recently, including the opening of a new outlet and bringing another long-established store ‘in house’.

Geelong Camera House – formerly Roydhouse Geelong Camera House, is the first company-owned outlet in the group’s history.

The group has also appointed a new senior executive, with Paul Rogers leaving as general manager and David Burlew, formerly managing director of Vitec (Manfrotto), assuming the newly-created role of managing director, Camera House-Raleru Ltd, in January this year.

Camera House-Raleru acquired the former Roydhouse Camera House in Geelong – the first and original ‘Camera House’ –  from long-time owner Jamie Roydhouse, who in partnership with wife Liz has turned a shared  passion for beer-making into a successful boutique brewery producing 150,000 litres a year of top quality, hand crafted beer in bottles and kegs. Cockies Beer is even exported to Singapore. This was back in 2019, but apparently no-one at Raleru considered it a development worth sharing with the rest of the industry!

‘Basically Jamie was looking to exit at the end of his lease and we felt a Camera House presence in the Geelong market was required, so Raleru bought it,’ Camera House-Raleru chair, Jon Paterson told Inside Imaging. Apart from ownership of a Pitt St, Sydney outlet back in the mists of time, his is the first ‘company store’ in the 37-year history of Camera House.

The re-named Geelong Camera House, still located at the same central CBD location, is managed by Trevor Cooke, who has a professional photography background. He has been developing a photo tours/photo walks business for the store, focussed on the photogenic land- and seascapes around the Great Ocean Road. There’s also been a renewed investment in printing equipment, including wide-format.

Jon Peterson, chair of Ralerus-Camera House.

‘This acquisition has made a solid return for shareholders and the Raleru board remain vigilant for other appropriate acquisition opportunities,’  said Jon (pictured right).

‘We wanted to develop a “capital-light” model for people with the skills but not necessarily the capital to start a store, and over time build some equity to acquire the business,’ he explained.

He said that Ballarat was another market in which Camera House should have a presence and it ‘remains on our agenda’, but the timing wasn’t appropriate and the leasing costs too high for Camera House-Raleru to do something similar with the soon-to-close Ballarat Camera House owned by Sue and Gerrard Lewis.

More recently, Camera House has established an entirely new outlet in Rouse Hill, Sydney. The store, in the Rouse Hill Town Centre is owned and operated by Justin Hechinger. There are plans to open another new store in Sydney’s south-west in the next few months.

Jon Paterson said the new management team has a goal to reposition Australia’s leading independent photo specialist chain as a more consumer-driven retailer. This will be accompanied this year with a new promotional tagline: ‘Get More with Camera House.’

‘Consumers have always recognised Camera House stores for their expertise in hardware,’ noted Jon. ‘The “Get More” brand platform informs the consumer of the complete range of services available at their local Camera House store: archiving, printing, framing, photo walks, and much more.’

Owner-manager Justin Hechinger in the shiny new Rouse Hill Camera House.

The group is also adopting a more sophisticated approach to planning ‘how many Camera House sites are needed and where and when they’ll be required.’

‘A study is being conducted on a national basis and will ultimately provide a list of open points that will require representation of a new retail site,’ Jon explained. ‘The management team, supported by a specialised network consulting firm, are using an optimisation algorithm that defines and analyses the socio-economic customer profile; assesses convenience of a proposed site; focuses on the maximum economic coverage of the target population; minimises overlap with exiting Camera House stores; and considers competitive set within the territory.

He concluded by saying: ‘Camera House is about to enter its fourth decade and these initiatives will see the Camera House network well-positioned into the future, and provide the consumer the opportunity to get more, much more.’


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