camera bags and backpacks



camera bags and backpacks
Camera bags
and backpacks
Everybody needs a camera bag, but with so many models
to choose from, it can be bewildering for stockists and
customers alike. We round-up the
Left: Tamrac’s popular
big sellers from the main players
Expedition 4 backpack
According to GfK figures for
the year ending January 2010,
the UK photographic imaging
accessories market is worth £58
million. This figure represents
three main product groups of
accessories - flashguns, tripods
and bags. Of these, bags are
probably the most obvious
product to add to a sale of a
camera or camcorder as they
have universal appeal. After
all, many customers will need
to protect and store their new
investment, whereas a flashgun
or tripod could be considered a
more specific purchase, bought
when a customer wants to
pursue a particular avenue of
You could be forgiven for
thinking that a gadget bag is a
gadget bag is a gadget bag. But
recent years has seen plenty of
Crumpler’s Muffin Top;
odd name, big seller
supported by
innovation within the
sector; the advent of
rucksack-style bags, the
introduction of stylish
storage solutions and
more multi-purpose
offerings to transport
both camera gear and
computer equipment. Plus,
it’s not just bag design
that’s changing, expect to
see a greater variety of
materials going into bag
construction as designers
start to use fabrics used in
many outdoors markets to make
products that are stronger and
lighter than existing offerings,
but stay waterproof.
Starting this month, our Grow
Your Business articles will round
up the latest innovations and
products in a particular market
sector, helping you to make an
informed decision about which
products to stock according
to your customer base. This
month, we contacted bag
manufacturers and
distributors to find
the next big thing.
Crumpler and Tamrac
Two popular brands, both
distributed by one company in
the UK, Intro 2020.
Like many bag manufacturers,
Tamrac was born out of
a photographic need. The
company’s founders were outdoor
enthusiasts who made a bag for
their own needs and then sold
it to others. Today, Tamrac is
aimed at serious amateur and
professional end users who are
looking for a high quality product.
While a wide range of models are
available – from compact pouches
and zoom holsters through to
rolling cases for large outfits
– Jane Nicholson, group media
manager of Intro 2020 told us
that it’s the company’s backpacks
that are the most popular models.
“The Expedition range, which
currently comprises half a dozen
models, from the Expedition 4
through to the Expedition 9X
sell well,” she said. “Five of the
Expedition models have space
to carry a laptop, and most also
offer compatibility with Tamrac’s
own Modular Accessory System
to expand storage capacity.”
It seems difficult to move
without spotting a Crumpler bag
these days. “They’re more of a
lifestyle bag,” confirms Jane “and
we know consumers tend to buy
more than one Crumpler model.”
Multiple purchase is made easier
BPI | MAY 2010 15
GrowingYourBusiness: Camera bags and backpacks
Right: Lowepro’s Pro
Runner range replaces
the Trekker bags
by the huge range of
pouches, cases and
backpacks available,
all with a specific
use in mind.
buy one for
their camera
gear, or laptop,
then get one
for their phone,
another for their
compact, and so
Above: Vanguard’s
on,” says Jane.
expandable Up-Rise
“There are also models
specifically designed for
women, which are very popular,
and the whole range doesn’t
has been revamped in
scream that they’re full of
recent years with over $1million
expensive camera gear, which
invested in R&D. Today, the
increases appeal.”
company has an impressive
Despite there being a huge
range of bags and cases and,
range to choose from, it’s still the
they believe, some unique selling
models designed for photographic
points. “We believe we offer the
use that are most popular with
same quality as other premium
retailers – the Muffin Top
bag manufacturers,
range, Jimmy Bo
but give
and Company
more to the
Hama’s Rexton range comes
Gigolo range
with a 10-year guarantee
(the names
are another
Jérôme de
part of the
bags’ appeal)
director of
all sell well.
Intro 2020
“That could
customers are
mean a more
welcome to take
attractive price
both Tamrac and Crumpler
tag, or extra features that other
models, but new accounts are
manufacturers don’t offer.”
also encouraged. Dealers taking a
The current jewel in the
broader range of bags from either
Vanguard crown is the Up-Rise
manufacturer will also appear
range of bags, which comprises
on Intro’s specialist stockists
a full range of products from
list on the dedicated Tamrac and
zoomsters to backpacks. All
Crumpler websites. For more
the bags are united by the fact
details, call 01628 674411 or
that they are expandable, a
design touch that – Jérôme is
quick to point out – has been
adopted by new ranges from rival
Established for 25 years,
Vanguard has recently gone
“We have work to do to build
through something of a
the Vanguard brand,” Jérôme
renaissance after realising
continues, “so we’re looking to
that growth and profit are
increase our number of stockists
more sustainable by producing
in the UK.” Contact Mac Bills
products for the higher end of
at Optical Distribution Services
the photography market. As
(ODS) on 02380 266300 or
a result, the entire Vanguard
16 MAY 2010 | BPI
supported by
Like a number of other
manufacturers, Hama tries to
appeal to a wide range
of consumers. “We aim
to provide a solution for
all consumers,” says
marketing manager
Fiona Evans. “These
include Defender, our range of
professional camera bags
for DSLR which come with
a 30 year guarantee;
aha: which is our range
of fashion bags and the
Rexton range, launched
late last year. We also offer
Samsonite camera bags such as
Trekking Premium and Samoa
which are both strong ranges
from a well known brand.”
“All Rexton bags have a ten
year warranty and a series of
integrated features including; a
robust rubber lining to the base,
moisture proof zips, an additional
stable insert, integrated rain
cover and integrated tripod
holders,” Fiona added.
“A series of new designs for the
aha brand will be available shortly
along with an exciting new series
called Canberra.”
When it comes to dealer
support, Hama prides itself on
good margins, POS support
and fast delivery times. “We
strive to maintain strong
working relationships with all
our dealers,” says Fiona, “and
will always go that extra mile to
ensure satisfaction.”
More details on 0845 230
4262 or by visiting www.hama.
Available in the market for
over 30 years, Domke has a
cult following with professional
photographers and photographic
organisations throughout the
UK. The original bags were made
from canvas – and are still available - but the company’s latest
range is made from Ruggedwear,
a cotton-based fabric impregnated with natural oils and
waxes. The impregnation process provides a permanent resistance to inclement weather, but
still allows the fabric to breathe.
Domke Ruggedwear bags also
have a fashionably distressed
look that, the company claims,
‘projects professionalism, but is
less likely to attract unwanted
attention as a bag containing
expensive equipment.’
Domke always welcome the
possibility of opening new dealerships across the country, and is
particularly interested in speaking to dealers who would be
prepared to take the whole range,
rather then one or two bags. Contact Swains International Ltd
Domke’s new RuggedWear bags are unlikely
to attract too much unwelcome attention
BPI | april 17
Camera bags and backpacks
Right: Billingham’s 207, complete
with new chocolate leather
on 01485 536200 or visit www.
The grandfather of bag
manufacturers, Lowepro have
been around for over 40 years
and boast an extensive range
for every level of consumer. “We
want to be on sale wherever
there’s a camera on sale and
hit every touch point from
the beginner using a compact
pouch through to a top end
professional user,” confirms
Lowepro senior brand manager
Tim Sadler from UK distributor
Daymen International. “To help
us achieve this, we also have
the Acme Made and AlwaysOn brands, which broaden our
appeal,” he continues. “AlwaysOn gives the retailer an impulse
buy they can have on the
counter, while Acme Made is a
more style driven purchase.”
The Lowepro range is
constantly evolving with minor
product tweaks as well as
launches of new ranges. The
current line up includes three
Primus backpacks, which are
made with 51 per cent recycled
material and the new Pro Runner
family of rucksack bags, launched
at Focus, which replace the
popular Trekker series. “It was
quite scary replacing this series
as it included the Mini Trekker
which was one of our biggest
selling backpacks,” says Tim,
“but the new range offers a high
quality, well designed pack at a
good price point.”
Daymen continue to look
to open up avenues for both
Lowepro and other brands in
their portfolio, supporting both
the core photographic trade and
supported by
looking outside the
photography markets
to grow their business.
“We continually run
incentives when we
launch products or
at different times of
year to help retailers,”
explains Tim, “but we also
don’t set recommended retail
prices to ensure a level playing
field for all our stockists.”
Call Daymen International on
01902 864646 or visit www.
Kata and National
Kata bags have seen a big
push in the UK over the last
three years, with a concerted
effort by distributors Manfrotto
Distribution (MD) to raise the
profile of the bags through print
advertising and reviews and
attendance at key trade events.
As Ed Spencer, Manfrotto
Distribution’s customer service
and purchasing manager (beat
that for a lengthy job title)
confirms, the brand has much to
shout about.
“Kata essentially has three
ranges – the Digital Photo System
(DPS) for mass market consumer
use, Global Digital Collection
(GDC) for professional use and
the new Lightweight range.”
It’s this new Lightweight range
(which will be available some
time this month) that Ed’s most
keen to talk about. “It uses the
latest materials, such as Ripstop
nylon - to keep weight to a
minimum,” he explains. “Kata is
so confident that the Lightweight
bags are unsurpassed that we
offer a money back guarantee.
If a consumer owns a Kata
Lightweight bag and can find a
lighter model that offers a similar
capacity and level of protection,
they’ll get the cost refunded.”
The GDC range is also worthy
of note, featuring Thermo Shield
Technology (TST) where the
nylon is heat treated to make it
“The National Geographic
range is smaller than Kata, but
is a good alternative if you don’t
want a black camera bag or one
in garish colours,” explains Ed.
“They’re quality products that
don’t look like camera bags, so
they’re more discreet.” Two
ranges are available: Earth
Explorer and Walkabout.
MD are keen to take on new
resellers for both ranges and
have eye-catching Kata POS
material designed specifically
for dealers with slat-walled
display areas. For details,
contact Manfrotto Distribution
on 01293 583300 or visit www.
As British as fish and chips,
bowler hats and bank holidays
at the seaside, Billingham
bags have a loyal following.
Impressively, the model that
started it all back in 1978 –
the 550 – is still part of the
current range, which has appeal
beyond the photography market.
“We’ve discovered that some
consumers are removing the
interior padding and using them
as travel bags,’ says Kathryn
Edgeley, product marketing
manager at UK distributors,
JP Distribution. “The bags can
be taken on board an aeroplane
so people are using them as
overnight bags.”
Trust in the Billingham
brand is enhanced by a five year
warranty and a lifetime guarantee
on zips and brass studs.
Customers have even asked for
bespoke changes, such as extra
pockets to be added, although
this does carry a charge.
“The f/stop range is new for
this year,” Kathryn explains.
“The design has been modernised
with wider straps on the front
and the use of chocolate leather
fastenings. This has proved
popular with female consumers
and the younger end of the
Billingham now has 15
specialist stockists throughout
the country and is looking to
take on more. “The specialist
dealers have the full range for
demonstration in store,” says
Kathryn. “We help them with
regular advertising promotions
in both photographic and travel
magazines, more POS material,
staff incentives and better
For details on the Billingham
range, contact JP Distribution on
01782 753300 or
Kata’s Bumblebee, one of the
new Lightweight range
BPI | MAY 2010 19
How the Camera
Centre in Shetland
found its ‘new way’
20 MAY 2010 | BPI
supported by
Following a trial, the Dakis system was
selected and a successful entry into the
world of e–commerce began
THE Camera Centre has
been serving the residents of
Shetland and its visitors for
over three decades. Like many
in the industry, it has enjoyed
boom times in the past but has
faced real challenges in recent
years. Owner Cecil Hughson and
manager Ben Mullay (left) knew
they needed to reposition the
shop to meet the needs of the
rapidly emerging market.
In early 2009 the process
of transformation began, led by
a strategic plan along with the
support of staff and suppliers.
It was the start of a journey
that would see every aspect of
the business analysed, refined
and scrutinised again, before it
became ‘the new way’.
Traditional photo shops have
a big selection of stock that is
often difficult to merchandise.
The Camera Centre was no
different, trying to pack a huge
number of products into its
compact retail area. The formula
was dated and didn’t reflect the
fresh new digital technology
they were trying to embrace.
Rationalisation was needed
to define categories and feature
new products and services. What
followed was a dramatic reformatting of the store, marking
a very visible beginning for the
A key element of the strategy
Cecil and Ben followed centred
on a new marketing plan. This
was designed to keep The
Camera Centre front of mind
in consumers’ thoughts for all
things imaging.
Whilst there are no other
specialists in this category on
the Islands, usual competitors
for prints and passport photos
are nearby - not forgetting the
internet. The Camera Centre
wanted to reinforce its many
years of experience, local
knowledge and reputation for
quality which were customer
feedback identified as key
success factors.
Utilising a successful
formula, 12 months of activities
were mapped out covering
every conceivable marketing
opportunity. Now the shop has
regularly changing offers, along
with seasonal campaigns for
Christmas, Easter, Valentines,
Mother’s and Father’s Days.
These are boosted by direct
mail campaigns, press releases,
community events and businessto-business offers. The
integrated system has worked,
with staff and customers reenergised through constant
promotional activity.
The company found other unexpected economies in the new
marketing strategy too. With
frequent demands from local
media for advertising, often at
short notice, the new format
ensured resources were not
taken up unnecessarily.
“We know well in advance
what our needs will be,” explains
Ben. “That means we don’t
advertise reactively - which
used to cost us financially and
in the time preparing the ads.”
Whilst the print business
was successful, Ben and Cecil
The Camera Centre, Lerwick, Shetland and some of its promotions.
hours researching suppliers and
methods to make this a reality.
Following a tip from
another successful lab owner,
they discovered a new range
of Adventa Instant Photo
Gifts, developed by Welsh
manufacturer, Innovamill.
These insertable products
covered the most popular lines
and made good use of the
company’s existing investment
in equipment. The Camera
Centre committed a large area
of merchandising near its kiosks
to the gifts. The results have
exceeded initial expectations,
with consistent growth and
“With the new gifting products we
now find people will also buy drink
coasters, key fobs or even a placemat,
which has dramatically lifted our
past averages’’
knew that photo gifting, books
and decor products were vital
to delivering growth. In the
mainland, offering and outsourcing these products would
be a simple addition to the
business. With extended delivery
times, outsourcing from the
Shetlands was simply not an
option - they would have to
be completed in-house. In the
following months, both spent
strong customer acceptance.
Like many minilabs, The
Camera Centre had been
struggling to boost order value especially when some only want
one or two prints.
“With the new gifting
products we now find people
will also buy drink coasters, key
fobs or even a placemat, which
has dramatically lifted our past
averages,’’ says Ben.
Not content with
comprehensive instant gifting
selection the management team
then lifted their sights to an
online solution. With a large
number of overseas ex-pats
and customers spread around
Shetland’s many islands, the
web was the only way to capture
and manage these orders.
Following a recommendation
and trial, the Dakis system was
selected and began what has
been a successful entry into the
world of e-commerce.
With the ability to develop
templates for gifting products,
Ben and his team set about
adding each item from the
Adventa range to the website.
This resulted in a wide variety
of styles and sizes that have
proven popular with both
consumers and business
Summer is a busy time for
The Camera Centre - especially
this year. With the Islands’
growing popularity as a tourist
destination, photography is
top of many visitors’ agenda.
Beginning in May the first of a
record 50 cruise liners will visit,
bringing in up to 29,000 people
to stroll around Lerwick’s tiny
Cecil, Ben and their team will
be ready with renewed energy
and a business that looks set
to be still enjoying success in
another 30 years’ time.
This month’s Business Spotlight report came from Lorraine Nicholson, client services manager, First Retail.
First Retail is an active member of PMA, providing business advice to photo retailers around the world.
BPI | may 2010 21
With bespoke insurance, computer
data recovery costs don’t have to be
disproportionately costly
Have you got it covered?
Many retailers pay over the odds for a standard policy that doesn’t give
adequate protection. Peter Stevenson, director of,
(left) explains how bespoke insurance policies can cover more than you think
Retailers should not assume
they’ll always be covered by an
individual photographer’s policy
as this may not be the case. It’s
important to make sure your
own policy covers everything
from business interruption loss
to employee cover.
Indeed employee cover should
be a priority for both photographers and retailers. The technical definition of an employee can
include anyone who is helping
you with your work. It could be
a friend or relative helping carry
equipment or a student on work
experience. If they were to have
an accident, falling off a step
whilst putting up an image, for
example, you could be liable.
This type of cover comes
under employers’ liability insurance and is a legal requirement.
In the past few years there has
been a huge increase in litigation against employers and
record breaking court awards
so make sure your policy gives
adequate cover for this.
Another ever present threat
for all professionals working
in the photography business is
computer viruses. The effect of
viruses was recently highlighted
in the case of Greater Manchester Police when it came under
attack from Conficker, a virus
that resulted in a forced shutdown and clean-up operation of
their entire computer system.
This wasn’t the first time
Manchester had a run-in with
the virus. Last year Manchester
City Council’s IT system was
infected, causing a reported
£1.5m of disruption. It might
not be to quite the same scale
22 MAY 2010 | BPI
long successful careers without
ever suffering serious accident or misfortune. They take
precautions such as storing data
offsite, using fireproof cabinets
and taking care to back data up.
Claims from photographers
who have experienced setbacks
of one kind or another land on
my desk every day. My advice
is to carry adequate insurance
cover for the work you undertake, review it annually and
sleep easily each night after
enjoying a rewarding day’s work.
For more information see:
but all those in the photo retail
trade store computer data in
the form of images. They too
are at risk. If a well-known virus
can pass the defences of large
organisations with IT budgets
and expertise, it means anyone
who uses a computer is vulnerable. If your computer suffers
the misfortune of being infected,
all is not lost.
The same goes for accidentally deleted data which can often
be recovered. It’s important that
a photographer doesn’t give up
just because their IT worker
says nothing can be done. Often
supported by
it can. Although clean-up costs
and hiring a data re-instatement
expert can be disproportionately
costly, with insurance protection this doesn’t have to be the
case. Many people are surprised
at the professional help at their
fingertips in the form of your
insurance policy and insurance
adviser. Photographers can
even be covered for negligent
service from both the hardware
and software suppliers. Have
pro customers call their insurer
and check to see if the policy
includes forensic recovery.
Many photographers have
Insuring your
business adequately
is one of the most
important things
that the retailer
needs to do. Comprehensive
cover is in some cases a
legal requirement. PMA has
arranged with two companies
to offer comprehensive cover
for members’ businesses at
discounted rates.
There are different policies
for different types of photo
business. Brokers RK Harrison
offer the PMA Protect policy,
email [email protected]
Towergate Camerasure also
offer discounted rates for
PMA members, visit www. There
are additional benefits for
PMA members who also put
their domestic and personal
insurance through the same
broker. For information email
[email protected]