Future uncertain for Comet staff

A cloud of uncertainty is hanging over workers at electrical store Comet in Scarborough after the company announced plans to go into administration.

Staff were told of the plans yesterday morning and restructuring specialist Deloitte has been lined up to handle the administration.

Comet, which has 240-stores in the UK, said it is “urgently working” to save the business and it is expected that administrators will try to find a new buyer for the 79-year-old firm.

A spokesman said: “Comet Group Limited can confirm that it has taken steps to seek the protection of the court with a view to the company entering into administration during week commencing November 5, 2012. In the meantime the board is urgently working with its advisers to seek a solution to secure a viable future for the company.”

Customers with outstanding orders and those with gift cards and vouchers are being told it is “business as usual until further notice” and that the group intends to honour deliveries of products that have been paid for.

The blow marks one of the UK’s biggest retail failures in recent years, following big name casualties like Woolworths and JJB Sports.

The planned administration comes just months after Comet was taken over by investment firm OpCapita, which bought the chain for a nominal £2 in February.

The electrical firm was founded in Hull in 1933.

It is thought OpCapita and recently-appointed chairman John Clare had been unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers.

The high street electricals market has come under huge pressure as cash-strapped shoppers put off expensive items such as TVs and large appliances, and online rivals take a bigger slice of the market.

Comet shut its stores until around 1pm today so staff could be briefed about possible job cuts and the future of the company.

Its website was down this afternoon, hosting the message: “Sorry comet.co.uk is currently unavailable. Please try again later.”

Comet’s customer care team is handling any customer inquiries on 0844 8009595.

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