The world of photography is rapidly changing and nobody is feeling the pinch more than stores that sell cameras and photographic equipment, so it comes as no surprise that TELUS is closing its 59 Blacks locations. TELUS acquired the retail photography chain in 2009 for $28 million in an effort to have an outlet to sell more smartphones. Joe Natale was TELUS’ president of consumer solutions and at the time his reasoning was, “The future of wireless begins today with the launch of the largest and fastest network in Canada. Our customer’s needs are evolving. More and more wireless devices come complete with high quality photo and video capabilities, and through our distribution at Black’s, TELUS customers who are passionate about photography will be able to easily select the device that best suits their needs.”
So his thinking was that consumers interested in photography could pick a smartphone with a built-in camera or a real camera. He never included in his vision that consumers would rely so much on their smartphone camera that they would eventually abandon their point-and-shoot cameras. A serious photographer still must rely on a good digital camera, but for the majority, their smartphone cameras have become their camera of choice – and why not? The quality of cameras in a flagship smartphone are simply amazing, and for those that used mid-range smartphones, even their cameras are good enough for social media or to show others pictures on your smartphone or in a digital frame. Who keeps an actual photo album any longer with paper photos in plastic sleeves.
This has been a long time coming – when TELUS first acquired Blacks, there were 113 retail locations across Canada that has slowly dwindled down to 59 stores, mostly in Ontario. The 485 Blacks employees will be offered other jobs or accept a transition package. TELUS released this announcement – “Technological innovations have changed the way Canadians take and share photographs, with fewer of us using retail photo outlets. Despite the positive momentum and financial improvements our BLACKS team has delivered over the last year, we have been unable to realize profitable growth…After careful consideration, we have made the decision the best approach is to turndown down (sic) the BLACKS business by August 8, 2015. In total we are closing 59 BLACKS stores, almost all in Ontario. As we move forward through this transition, our number one priority is to support our team and our customers. We’re offering our team new roles which will best fit their skill set at a TELUS or Koodo head office, retail outlets, call centres, or accepting a transition package…”