Almost a month after Comet’s collapse into administration, Retail Week takes a look at the state of play at the beleaguered retailer.
How many redundancies have been made and how many stores closed?
Over a thousand jobs have now been lost at Comet as administrator Deloitte first closed its back office functions and then the first package of stores. The job losses include the 735 redundancies made across Comet’s Rickmansworth head office, logistics division and home delivery network that administrator Deloitte revealed last week.
That was in addition to 330 redundancies made at the HQ in Hertfordshire and Clevedon call centre in Somerset the previous week. The first 30 stores closed last week and a further 11 shut in Scotland over the weekend at a cost of 800 jobs collectively.
Is anyone interested in the entire store estate?
It appears unlikely, however it emerged on Friday that an unnamed property tycoon based in Bournemouth with links to white goods specialist Euronics is interested in making a bid for 140 stores, saving more than 2,000 jobs. Deloitte’s deadline for initial bids was November 14. It is understood to be far more likely that a number of retailers will pick up parts of the store estate. Dixons, Maplin, B&M Bargains and Poundstretcher are among those understood to be interested in a handful of stores while TK Maxx is reportedly eyeing 25 shops.
How about the online assets?
Shop Direct and Appliances Online owner DRL are both understood to be vying for Comet’s brand and website. So while the Comet name may disappear from retail parks around the country, it appears likely it will survive in some form. Shop Direct has experience of relaunching a well known brand online; it bought the Woolworths brand in 2009 and launched woolworths.co.uk. Meanwhile DRL has said it has tabled a “seven figure” bid for the brand. OpCapita consultant Chris Pavlosky is also understood to be fielding bids for TWG, Comet’s profitable warranties business, which is not in administration.
How are the Sales progressing?
Shoppers were initially angered that prices as part of a Clearance Sale – launched on November 8 – were reduced just 10% in many cases. Reductions have subsequently become deeper, with 30% off deals advertised, although the reductions are not on all categories with products including TVs not yet discounted. A ‘Closing Down’ Sale began across all stores last Thursday.
What is the next step?
There is likely to be further news on store closures over the next few days and this may gather pace as stores begin to run out of stock. Comet had £120m of stock when the Sale began and has been topped up by a small amount of stock worth in the “single millions”, according to sources close to the retailer. With four major shopping weekends remaining until Christmas, more stores are likely to close in early to mid-December as stock runs out. Every store is understood to have a provisional closing down date unless a white knight comes to the rescue.
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Analysis: What is the situation regarding Comet's staff, Sale and assets?