A second top executive at ailing Midlands-based photographic retailer Jessops is quitting as sales continue to fall.

Chief executive Chris Langley will leave the beleaguered high street chain, which is closing branches and axing jobs, at the end of November after just over a year in the role.

News yesterday of his departure came only two weeks after finance director Ian Harris announced he is to step down at the end of the month, leaving the group searching for two key executives during its critical pre-Christmas period.

Chairman David Adams, who will take a more active role in the business until a new chief executive is found, said rescue plans were on track, but sales had been "severely impacted" by the restructure, according to the group.

The group reported like-for-like sales down 8.7 per cent in the 51 weeks to September 23, with trading further impacted by the recent store closure programme.

Leicester-based Jessops said more than 60 per cent of the 81 stores identified for closure would be shut by the end of this week and the remainder would be offloaded before November.

However the group offered hope that its turnaround strategy was beginning to produce a change in fortunes, with further cost savings identified on top of the #15 million it aims to cut.

More than #17 million of stock will now be cleared, while it also hopes to strip out more than the #1.8 million in cost savings announced in June from its support centre.

Jessops said that while the overhaul had hit sales in recent weeks, this had been offset by higher margins thanks to new products and a marketing drive over the summer.

The firm is expected to report underlying pre-tax losses of #7.5 million in the year to September 30. Jessops has issued a string of profit warnings this year after being hit by competition from online retailers and supermarkets.

It was originally hoping to post full-year profits of more than #16.5 million, but poor Christmas trading was followed by a dire January for sales and performance has failed to pick up since.

Today's news of more boardroom departures also follows a turbulent period of management change, with former chairman Gavin Simonds and commercial director Robin Whitbread already having quit earlier this year.

The firm announced a refinancing arrangement and restructure in June in a bid to get the business back on track - a move which is set to see 550 of its 3,000 -strong workforce cut.

Richard Ratner, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: "David Adams must feel a bit lonely and the difficulty may be in attracting the right quality chief executive to the business.

"It is possible that it will get to near break-even next year, but we believe that any return to meaningful profitability would involve a further culling of the store portfolio."

The broker said store closures, stock clearance and cost reduction programmes had gone well. There is "every possibility" that the company will get near to break-even levels next year but the store closure programme would have to be stepped up.

The company's shares gained nearly 40 per cent yesterday, putting on 3.5p to close at 12.25p.