Dixons Retail is throwing a lifeline to beleaguered Comet staff awaiting the arrival of their P45s by offering some of them seasonal work in its PC World and Currys stores over the peak Christmas season.
Administrator Deloitte took control of Comet late on Friday after the ailing retailer ran into insurmountable liquidity woes. It is seeking to stabilise the business and seek a buyer.
It is unlikely, say sources, that any venture capital house or rival retailer will buy Comet as a going concern; any potential buyer is likely to "cherry pick" the most profitable of the 236 stores still trading.
Dixons boss Sebastian James said his company is "looking to recruit 3,000 temporary members of staff - 2,000 at stores as we move into the important Christmas trading period".
Dixons has delayed the recruitment process by a week to "allow Comet staff a fair crack at applying", he said. He claimed Dixons had already received 400 enquiries from workers.
"We've had Comet staff in their uniforms walk into our stores asking about jobs. Most branches of Comet are on the same parks as us," said James.
All staff will undergo training, presumably from asthmatic Star Wars villain Darth Vader, in "our services and support methods". These methods used to involve brow-beating customers into choosing a product under promotion, but we are assured this no longer happens.
"Clearly this is going to be a difficult Christmas for them and their families. We'd like to offer some hope," said James. It must be cheaper way to recruit staff as well.
The jobs are temporary, but the Dixons head honcho said: "We are hoping that a good number will become permanent."
Deloitte yesterday revealed that shoppers can again use their gift cards in store. The vouchers were suspended when Deloitte was appointed to assess Comet's financial position.
The administrator also said it intends to fulfil customers' orders for items in stock and provide refunds to customers where it cannot. ®