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Photoforce has Closed its Doors

This morning we went to the Photoforce garage sale and put our names down on their list to be notified when the photography assets were being sold. This is almost the end of an era for Hobart.

Photoforce has been processing film in Hobart for 29 years and at one time there were over 20 places you could send film for processing. The only two film processors remaining are Stallards Camera House and (what may now appear to be closed three years after this article was written) Perfect Prints.

As far as I’m aware, neither service targets the professional photographic print. I’m not sure if either provide true black and white processing or high quality larger one-off prints.

Photoforce are recommending their clients onto Atkins Technicolour for E6 processing at 20% discount until the end of 2011. Atkins Technicolour are located at 89 Fullarton Road, Kent Town, South Australia, 5067 (email: info@atkins.com.au).

In a brief conversation we learned the major reason for Photoforce’s closure was a landlord unwilling to let them utilise the spare space they were renting. It needed renovation and the rent was already high. One room leaked. So they had no choice, if they couldn’t use that space to diversify and offer new services then there was no profit left in the industry for them.

So that’s a truely bastard landlord after 29 years paying a high property rent.

My initial guess was that with a declining market for film processing and a changing industry all-consumed toward digital that our explosion in water fees and other overheads just took their toll. In a way, I guess they did.

However, R and K strategies offer a little advice for us on this one, too. Early in an industry an R strategy says the advantage would be taken by those who rent and lease assets. In contrast, in later stages of an industry (and not much is more mature than 29 years of film processing) the advantage is in following a K strategy.

The K strategist invests in the assets. They would buy the building… or a building.

Had Photoforce, fifteen-to-twenty years ago, moved to the K strategy they might still be in business. It’s worth keeping in mind if you’re struggling with your own business out there. Photoforce was ultimately at the mercy of a third party – the landlord.

The trick of R and K strategies is to realise that at the beginning of a new industry the advantage goes to the fast and the nimble with low overheads. But as that industry matures the advantage moves to the K strategy. Owning the business means not paying out that weekly rent from the cash flow.

I would really have loved to have sat down with these guys a few months or even several years ago. That was 29 years of brand building they’ve pulled the plug on and it’s sad to see them go. Sadly, as these thriving small businesses wither in our community that makes us a poorer society with less services to access. One of the things I would have recommended at that earlier stage would have been a dialogue with local and State government.

I wish them the best of luck. Being self-employed to unemployed must have been a difficult business decision. We’ll all miss their quality service.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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