Big Bear boss sells up after Telecom swoop

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The owner of Queens­town’s first computer shop is bowing out after a decade. 

Big Bear owner Mark Jessop hands over his business – now predominantly a cell phone retailer – to network provider Telecom on Monday. 

Jessop’s sold his busy downtown establishment because of rapid, competitive changes in the telecommunications industry – and because Telecom approached him with a deal to buy him out. 

“It’s been a very good, competitive environment, but the market’s matured now – there’re more cell phones in New Zealand than there are people,” he says. 

“The industry is rationalising and I guess it’s Telecom’s desire to run things themselves.” 

Jessop, also owner of Tatler and Prime restaurants, adds: “One thing in this industry, the prices of phones are always dropping … so you have to sell more phones to make the same money.” 

The same applies for computers – which used to be Big Bear’s core business when he took over in 2000. 

“Margins in the old days used to be about 22-23 per cent. Now they’re about six or seven per cent.” 

The qualified accountant with a degree in marketing is looking for a new business to run or buy. 

“I’m not sure what I want to do, not sure where the future will take me, to be honest. It’s exciting but it’s a little bit scary – I’ve always had something on the go, so I just need to find something.” 

He’s also a bit sad to be moving on from Big Bear: “I’ll miss dealing with the locals. It’s been a really enjoyable experience, meeting people and making friends. It’s been good fun.”