Electricals retailer Comet suffered a 22.1% like-for-like sales plunge in its second quarter after suffering a double-whammy of harsh trading conditions and tough comparatives.
There was no concrete news on the potential sale of the troubled business other than that interest is still being considered, alongside parent Kesa’s own turnaround plans for Comet, and clarity is expected by Christmas.
Kesa chief executive Thierry Falque-Pierrotin said: “The process is ongoing. We’ll provide an update when the process is completed.”
He added: “We said in June that the focus is on the turnaround plan. We know what we want to do and the team is focused on delivering the plan.”
Falque-Pierrotin described the last quarter as “a transitionary period for Comet” and insisted that progress is being made.
He pointed to action taken to address margin erosion and “relative outperformance” of higher margin product, contributing to an 80 basis point improvement in gross margin, as evidence of progress.
The comparative period last year included the World Cup, which boosted sales of product such as TVs. Falque-Pierrotin said the performance in the quarter was “as anticipated” and the like-for-like trend improved through the period.
Sales through Comet.co.uk showed “an increasingly improved trend” but overall internet growth was affected by factors including the alignment of online and in-store prices.
At group level Kesa, which also owns Darty in France, reported sales down 9.8% and like-for-likes down 9.9% in the period to July 31.
Falque-Pierrotin said: “With consumer confidence falling to a low ebb across Continental Europe and the UK, market conditions are likely to remain challenging for some time.
“In these circumstances we will continue our strategy of growing our cross channel, service led, specialist model while maintaining our focus on the strength of our cash generation and balance sheet.”