Three country Victorian Camera House stores are currently up for sale, in Bendigo, Shepparton and Echuca, with rumours that ownership of Paramatta Camera House is also in the process of changing.
Matt Hourigan, who has been operating Bendigo Camera House for over 10 years, taking over from Don Pape, told Inside Imaging that although recent financial results have been better than ever, he simply felt it was time for a change as he was beyond retirement age.
He conceded that the employment administration obligations which come with running a small business in 2021 had been a deciding factor in his desire for a change of scene.
‘The business has never been better. It’s been growing over the last three years. With the right enthusiasm and a bit of capital, that will continue,’ he said.
The other two sales are co-incidental, with one related to ill-health.
‘We wish those members who are retiring all the very best and we are assisting members with a smooth transition for the sale of their business,’ said David Burlew, managing director, Camera House-Raleru.
He did not respond to our query regarding whether any other Camera House outlets were on the market.
Rumours from several sources indicate that Parramatta Camera House has also been up for sale, and that a potential sale of the high-turnover outlet to another national photo chain had to be rescinded due to clauses in the Camera House members’ agreement.
While not specifically referring to Parramatta Camera House, David Burlew note: ‘The process for the sale of business and assignment of their franchise is embedded in their members’ agreement and was signed off by the members back in 2019.’
He said that buyers of Camera House outlets need to apply to be a Camera House franchisee. ‘We are working with some sales agents to facilitate this,’ he added.
There has been a lot going on at Camera House over the last 12 months. The New Camera House in Lismore was devastated by floods earlier in the year. Last year another significant Camera House outlet, Geelong Camera House (formerly Roydhouse CH) was acquired by Camera House-Raleru to maintain a presence in the regional city, while an all-new company-owned outlet was opened in Rouse Hill in western Sydney.
Thornton Richards Camera House Ballarat, which laid claim to being the oldest camera store in Australia, sadly closed its doors midway through last year, around the time that founding chairman of Camera House, Alan Small (formerly Taree Camera House) equally sadly, left the group.