Comet stores are to continue to trade for the time being and staff will be paid, administrator Deloitte has said.

Deloitte was appointed administrator to the troubled electricals retailer today and will conduct an “urgent process” to identify whether there are any suitable buyers.

Neville Kahn, who played a prominent role in the administration of Woolworths in 2008, Nick Edwards and Chris Farrington, have been named joint administrators of Comet.

Kahn said: “Comet has been battling the changing landscape of the electrical retail sector for many years. It has become increasingly difficult for it to compete with online retailers which don’t face the same overheads such as store rents and business rates.

“Our immediate priorities are to stabilise the business, fully assess its financial position, and begin an urgent process to seek a suitable buyer which would also preserve jobs.

“In the meantime, all stores will continue to trade and all employees will continue to be paid.”

Deloitte said that Comet had suffered in harsh trading conditions. “The electrical retail sector has been particularly challenging, with fewer people buying big ticket items, and fewer first time property buyers who have historically been an important market for the company,” according to Deloitte.

Comet hit the buffers after credit insurance was withdrawn following speculation that it might be sold. The change in circumstances meant that there was insufficient cash available to stock up for Christmas.

Comet has 236 stores and employs 6,611 people - a full time equivalent workforce of 4,682.