Wex Photo Video, the UK's biggest specialist photographic retailer, is adding a tenth location to its host of physical stores across the UK. The new camera shop in central Leeds is opening in May and marks the retailer's third launch in under 18 months.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the impact felt by much of the high street (the likes of which saw Jessops filing for administration) Wex saw an increase in online demand during lockdown as the interest in photography and filmmaking reached new heights over the last year.
The retailer also felt the rise of new hobbies away from its core business, including astronomy, birdwatching and computing. For astronomy alone, Wex saw a 260 per cent increase in web traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels.
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Founded originally as a Norwich camera shop, Wex’s online presence now represents the majority of its consumer business, but the retailer says that it remains committed to bricks and mortar.
Before news of the pandemic broke, Wex took on a major expansion strategy, first refurbishing all its locations. In January 2020, the Birmingham showroom was moved to larger premises, followed six months later by the launch of a brand-new store on the Milton Keynes high street.
“The last year has been challenging but Wex remains in a strong position, thanks to thriving online sales driven by a spike in demand during lockdown," says Louis Wahl, CEO at Wex Photo Video. He's optimistic for growth in 2021 and beyond.
"[We] will continue to invest in physical stores to serve our customers all over the UK. With such a high density of photographers in the Leeds area, alongside a growing media presence, this was the natural location for Wex’s tenth store.”
The new Leeds store will be the largest camera store in Yorkshire and cements Wex’s move into the north of England. Post-Leeds, Wex’s growth plans are set to continue, with the announcement of another location expected over the next few months.
The expansion of the business into Leeds has created multiple full and part-time job vacancies, helping local residents get back to work.
The branch will have 3,000 square feet of space, and areas have been carved out to allow easy access to the full range of gear, from batteries, filters and memory cards to high-end cameras, studio lighting and printers.
To celebrate the launch of the new Leeds store, Wex will be asking the local community to submit an image that best encapsulates what the reopening of their city means to them. The winning entrant will earn Wex vouchers, a Sony A7C and their photograph professionally printed, mounted and displayed in the Leeds store.