Rain

Rain

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

UK: Collapse of Comet under investigation as final stores prepare to close

12:32 18 December 2012

The final day of trading at one of the final Comet stores

The final day of trading at one of the final Comet stores

PA Wire

EVENTS surrounding the collapse of electricals retail chain Comet are to be examined it emerged today, as the company’s remaining stores traded for the final time.

shares

A fact-finding exercise by the company investigations branch of the Insolvency Service will cover the run-up to the appointment of administrators last month and Comet’s takeover by a private equity-backed investment vehicle in February.

The administrators, from accountancy firm Deloitte, are calling a halt to trading from today at the last 49 Comet stores to have remained open, having failed to find a buyer for any of its 235 outlets.

It means a total of 6,895 jobs have been lost at Comet including more than 100 in Suffolk and Essex, with stores in Ipswich, Chelmsford and Basildon being among the last to close today, in addition to branches already axed in Bury St Edmunds and Colchester.

Comet, which was founded in 1933, is one of the biggest retail casualties since the demise of Woolworths in 2008.

With insufficient funds raised from the winding down of the chain, the Government will have to pick up the tab for £23.2million of outstanding redundancy pay, accrued holiday pay and pay in lieu of notice.

Taxpayers will also lose a further £26.2m in the form of unpaid tax owed by Comet to HM Revenue & Customs, which is an unsecured creditor.

According to the creditors’ report compiled by Deloitte, the investment vehicle put together by American Henry Jackson of OpCapita, which raised funding from unnamed investors for the acquisition of Comet from French retail group Kesa Electricals, is expected to recoup just under £50m as a secured creditor. It also continues to own Comet’s warranties business, which is not in administration.

The investment vehicle received a £50m “dowry” from Kesa as part of the acquisition and was also repaid a £9.5m loan prior to the chain’s collapse.

The report states that Comet racked up losses of £95m in the year to April this year, having seen revenues slump by £200m compared with the previous 12 months.

This was followed by a further £31m loss in the subsequent five months as credit insurers lost confidence and withdrew support for the business.

Comet, which could still have a future as an online brand, has been hit by weak high street trading conditions and competition from online rivals.

In particular, it has been knocked by the shortage of first-time homebuyers who were key customers for larger household appliances.

shares

0 comments

Ransomes Jacobsen operations director Simon Rainger addresses staff as the company's last Ransomes Commander mover leaves the production line.

Staff at Ipswich-based turf maintenance machinery maker Ransomes Jacobsen have marked the end of an era, with the last Ransomes Commander mower having rolled off the production line.

The rate of growth in the UK economy rebounded during the second quarter of 2015, but the manufacturing sector continued to struggle, according to official figures.

UK growth bounced back in the second quarter of 2015 as gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.7%, according to official figures.

Charles Manning on the new patio area at Bears Boutique Bar and Bowling in Star Lane, Ipswich

Businessman Charles Manning is pleased with the way his Bears bowling bar and grill is fitting into the entertainment offer in Ipswich – and with the business community.

Barker Gotelee has welcomed Lucy Underwood, conveyancing assistant, Linda Crawford, solicitor, Nicky Sunderland. trust and estate planning practitioner, and Lisa Hobbs, junior secretary.

Ipswich-based law firm Barker Gotelee has welcomed four new employees across its expanding business.

A Ryanair aircraft atStansted Airport.

Budget airline Ryanair today reported a 25% jump in earnings for the first quarter of its new financial year.

Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

Alton Towers owner Merlin expects annual earnings for its theme parks business to drop by as much as £47million this year following last month’s rollercoaster crash.

Artist's impression of how an office development in Sheepen Road, Colchester, could look

A council has managed to secure tenants for a new office development before work has even begun on building it.

Manufacturers in the East of England are in confident mood, according to a new report.

Manufacturers in the East of England are helping to lead the way in exports and business confidence, according to a new report

Tom Gillman of Crafted.

Mediterranean Shipping Company, which has its UK head office in Ipswich, has launched a new global website, designed and built by locally-based digital agency Crafted.

IPRS Group celebration at Wherstead Park, Ipswich

Company celebration is a boost for charities

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages