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UK: Closing down sales as Comet closes 125 more stores

PUBLISHED: 11:02 28 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:05 28 November 2012

A Comet store

A Comet store

Most of collapsed electrical retail chain Comet’s stores are set to close over the coming weeks, administrators have announced.

In the absence of a firm offer for the whole of the business, joint administrators from Deloitte have told staff that they are set to begin closing a further 125 stores.

This process will take place over several weeks and will leave around 70 stores which will remain open until all of the remaining stock is sold.

The Bury St Edmunds branch of stricken electricals retailer was among more than 40 of the chain’s stores which were identified for closure earlier this month. Administrators said it would be among 41 stores would close by the end of November unless a buyer for the business is found in the meantime.

Besides the Bury branch, which employs 11 staff, Comet’s presence in the region also includes stores in Ipswich, where 24 staff are employed, and Colchester, where there are 20 employees.

The company’s business support functions at Rickmansworth, Hull and Clevedon will be further reduced at the same time.

Joint administrator Chris Farrington said: “We remain in discussions with a small number of interested parties and hope that a positive outcome can still be achieved. Should any acceptable offers be received for stores we will delay the closure process. 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. If a sale is not possible we would envisage stores to begin closing in December.”

The Joint Administrators are also consulting with employees at the Harlow distribution centre with a proposal to close the site on Friday, November 30. The distribution centre at Skelmersdale is continuing to support the store network.

Mr Farrington added: “We remain extremely grateful to the company’s employees for their commitment and support during a period of concern and anxiety for them. All employees will be paid for the work they do while the Company is in administration and I can confirm that any accrued holiday pay, overtime and bonus earned during the administration trading period, together with the pre-administration bonus that was owed to employees at the time of our appointment, will be paid to employees as previously stated.”

“A dedicated helpline is in place for all employees and the Company is running an Employee Assistance Programme to help those staff made redundant find other jobs. As part of this programme, the Company has established relationships with more than 35 prospective employers who are keen to offer roles to ex-Comet employees, and is actively working to introduce redundant Comet employees to these employers. 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.”

Neville Kahn, Nick Edwards and Chris Farrington of Deloitte were appointed joint administrators to Comet on November 2.

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