Two Comet directors are to exit the business and redundancy consultations have begun with other head office staff as the electricals specialist battles to recover after disastrous Christmas trading.
Services director Toby Lousada and business support director Richard Boult are both leaving as part of restructuring to cut costs as Comet heads into the red following a 7.3% like-for-like sales fall in the peak trading period.
The retailer has also warned 47 staff, mainly in its Rickmansworth and Hull head offices, that their jobs are at risk. A 30-day consultation period began this week.
Lousada and Boult’s responsibilities, which range from finance and property to home delivery and installation, will be taken up by other senior staff reporting to managing director Hugh Harvey.
It is hoped the raft of changes will result in greater efficiency without affecting customer service.
Harvey said of the potential redundancies: “We have been experiencing exceptionally difficult trading conditions due to economic factors and the impact on customer buying trends.
“We have had to introduce significant cost-cutting measures. While this has been a very difficult decision, it has been a necessary one in managing the condition of the business and making sure we’re in the right position to work through the very challenging trading conditions we find ourselves in.”
Comet is closing its Widnes shop in the next few weeks and is in lease negotiations over its Cribbs Causeway store. There has been speculation that it may shut more shops but a spokeswoman said there was no major closure programme in place.
Late last year Comet rebranded and positioned itself as a family-friendly specialist whose mid-sized stores could provide an advantage over rival’s big sheds.
But City analysts fear that turning around Comet, which is owned by Anglo-French group Kesa, is likely to prove difficult. UBS analyst Adam Cochrane said after last week’s trading update: “Without radical action or an economic recovery Comet will struggle to recover to a profit.”
Best Buy UK online boss DeVere Forster has left the retailer to join Middle Eastern group Alshaya, as revealed by Retail-Week.com last Friday. He oversaw the launch late last year of Best Buy’s website.