The Channel logo

News

By | Paul Kunert 28th November 2012 12:29

Comet crashes to Earth: 125 stores wiped out

Thousands of chain's staff at risk

Comet administrator Deloitte will shut 125 of the retail chain's stores, putting thousands of people out of work just before Christmas.

The receiver, appointed at the start of this month, is unable to find a buyer for the business as a going concern. The closures will take place over the next fortnight, leaving about 70 outlets open until the last of the stock has been flogged.

"Unfortunately, in the absence of a firm offer for the whole of the business, it has become necessary to begin making plans in case a sale is not concluded," said joint administrator Chris Farrington.

"If a sale is not possible we would envisage stores to begin closing in December."

Deloitte is holding talks with employees at the distribution centre in Harlow, Essex, regarding a proposal to close the facility on 30 November. Its sister site in Skelmersdale, West Lancashire, will continue to support the network.

To date, rivals Dixons and Maplin expressed an interest in taking on just a handful of stores each, according to sources, but no one came through for all 236 Comet outlets.

An entrepreneur was rumoured to have looked at 140 stores but nothing came of it. However, the chain's web operation appears to have a future with Appliances Online, which lodged a seven-figure bid.

“We remain in discussions with a small number of interested parties and hope that a positive outcome can still be achieved," said Farrington.

Prior to administration, Comet employed 6,611 workers of which 4,682 were full timers.

Deloitte laid off 330 staff less than a fortnight after its appointment, then last week confirmed it was closing 41 stores and axed 735 employees, mostly in the home delivery network.

Administrators said they have established contact with 35 prospective employers, one of which is Dixons, to offer dumped staff new jobs as a lifeline.

"We will also be organising a series of employment fairs around the country during the New Year to assist any Comet staff who have been made redundant and remain out of work," added Farrington. ®

comment icon Read 17 comments on this article alert Send corrections

Opinion

Pure Storage array

Neil McAllister

How the cloud taught Redmond to play by a new set of rules
Love

Features

Pebble Steel
Meet the man who accidentally created the smartwatch hype
No, silly... he was the fall guy for years of Finnish folly
Fraud image