Closing down sales have been announced at some Comet stores

UK: 735 jobs shed at collapsed electrical retailer Comet’s head office and delivery network

Monday, November 19, 2012
3.45 PM

The Joint Administrators of collapsed electrical store chain Comet today announced 735 further redundancies in the company’s head office, central functions and across its home delivery network.

Administrators Deloitte meanwhile continues its search for a buyer for all or parts of the business.

A total of 603 employees have been made redundant from the home delivery network which operates from 12 hubs across the UK. The network will continue to operate, although with a significantly reduced workforce at each of the 12 locations, in order to complete deliveries and continue to support the repairs operation.

A further 132 jobs have been lost at Comet’s head office and support functions, including 57 redundancies at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, 17 employees in Hull, and 56 employees from the call centre in Clevedon. Staff involved were informed at meetings today.

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 the company is actively working to introduce redundant Comet employees to these employers, administrators said.

There have been no redundancies to date at Comet stores. But administrators confirmed on Saturday that up to 41 Comet stores may have to close between now and the end of November, including at Bury St Edmunds, unless a buyer can be found for the business. A closing down sale with increased discounts has begun in 27 stores and a further 14 stores may be identified for closure in the coming days unless a buyer can be found or new terms agreed with landlords in the meantime. At the same time, more generous discounts will be applied to products across all Comet stores from tomorrow.

Administrators hope to redeploy staff from any stores which close to other stores nearby, but there will “inevitably” be redundancies among the 869 full-time and part-time employees who work in these 41 stores, they said.

Chris Farrington, Joint Administrator, said: “Discussions continue to take place with parties who have expressed interest in parts of the business. However, it is unfortunately necessary to begin a store closure programme and to scale back the company’s support functions. While we will continue to do all we can to preserve jobs, we are working hard to put in place comprehensive support to help those employees who are made redundant during the administration.

“This support includes connecting people to prospective employers who are keen to offer roles to ex-Comet staff, and providing assistance and workshops to help with job hunting skills, such as CV and cover letter writing and interview skills, to enhance their chances of securing new employment.

“We are very grateful to the company’s employees for their professionalism, loyalty and support at this difficult time and employees will of course continue to be paid for all the work they do while the company is in Administration.”

Neville Kahn, Nick Edwards and Chris Farrington of Deloitte were appointed Joint Administrators to Comet on Friday, November 2.