The long-term survival of Ilford, one of the great names in black and white photography, has been thrown into doubt by the appointment of administrators at the 125-year-old group, following a collapse in demand for its traditional photographic products caused by the rapid growth in digital cameras. Mark Byers, Malcolm Shierson and Les Ross, partners at Grant Thornton, have been appointed joint administrators of Ilford Imaging, parent of a group employing 1,500 staff. They have also been appointed joint receivers of Ilford Imaging UK. Ilford suffered because it continued to concentrate on black and white photography, where it had a 60 per cent market share. It was also slow to counter the digital cameras threat. The company is currently controlled by Doughty Hanson, the venture capitalists. Ilford Imaging has two main manufacturing companies in the UK and Switzerland, and it is the UK operation, employing 740 staff at Mobberley, near Manchester, that is likely to face the biggest job losses. Demand for black and white film and paper manufactured by the Manchester plant had been declining by 11 per cent a year over the last three years. Over the last seven months it had fallen by 26 per cent. Ilford's high fixed-cost base made it unable to respond quickly enough to the drop in demand. It owes $75m (£41.3m) to a syndicate of banks led by UBS, Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase. Doughty Hanson wrote off its investment years ago. Mr Byers said the Swiss operation, which focuses on an digital inkjet business, was unaffected by the planned insolvency appointments. The Swiss operation was "trading normally and is growing", said Mr Byers . . . who said that it had "cutting edge" technology ahead of Kodak. Over the last four years Ilford had managed to reverse the long-term decline in its sales which grew 11 per cent, to $233m, in 2003. Although focusing increasingly on digital photography, it could not offset losses on traditional products.