Scope Features agency blames 'increase in competition' as it folds after 47 years with £13,000 still owed to photographers - Press Gazette

Scope Features agency blames 'increase in competition' as it folds after 47 years with £13,000 still owed to photographers

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A photographic and features agency has folded after 47 years, with payments of nearly £13,000 still owed to photographers.

The demise of Scope Features has been blamed on increased competition from other agencies and a “general decline in industrial sales”.

The company was put into voluntary liquidation on 2 May by Bailey Ahmad Business Recovery. In total, it owes nearly £400,000 in unpaid debts.

The liquidators told Press Gazette in a statement, on behalf of Scope’s managing director Peter Murphy, who has led the company since 1993, that he had spent almost a year trying to save the business with his own money.

“Sales of pictures have decreased dramatically in recent years as competition from rival agencies has increased,” the statement said.

It said Murphy set up a “virtual office” in September 2016 to try and reduce overheads and continued to “inject his own personal funds into the company” from March 2017 until January 2018, when he “decided that he could not continue to do so”.

The statement said Murphy “attributes the company’s failure to a general decline in industry sales and an increase in competition”.

According to its statement of affairs, filed at Companies House on 17 May, individual photographers are owed sums ranging from £30 to more than £2,000.

However the National Union of Journalists told Press Gazette that no-one affected had come to them for assistance.

The company’s debts include £43,598 owed to three employees, £330,423 to Murphy, and £1,872 to HM Revenue and Customs.

Its biggest sum is owned to Bauer Media in Australia, at £2,295, followed by £2,145 to a UK photographer to whom Scope acted as an agent.

It owes six other photographers and publishers sums above £1,000, according to the statement of affairs.

The liquidators did not respond to questions on whether these debts would be paid in full.

Scope was founded in 1971 by Dennis Cooper, who the first full-time staffer at Rex Features photo agency. He resigned as Scope’s co-director in 1997 and passed away in 2013 aged 83.

Scope Features had a photographic library featuring the work of TV Times, Hearst and French and Italian magazine publisher Mondadori, with staff carrying out “continual in-house scanning and retouching of new and archive pictures”, according to its now-defunct website.

It said Cooper had “brought together a team of talented, highly professional like-minded photographers and writers with the aim of establishing a premiere photographic features agency producing high-quality pictures and features from the fields of entertainment, showbiz, sport, politics, art, television, writing and movies for worldwide distribution”.

In 1991 Scope Features also launched Scope Beauty, which dealt with fashion, lifestyle and beauty images for publications worldwide.

Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett 


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