Comet Staff Offered Lifeline as Turnaround Specialist Shows Interest
By Alistair Charlton | November 28, 2012 9:20 PM EST
Thousands of Comet employees facing redundancy may be offered a lifeline, as the electrical retailer's administrator Deloitte has confirmed it is in talks with turnaround specialist Clive Coombes to save the remaining 180 stores.
The 43-year-old is a consultant at CC Business Angels in Southampton, a company that offers investment and buyout services, and if he makes a takeover bid for Comet it could save the jobs of the remaining 5,500 staff. Coombes is thought to be using a private company called Meridian Wholesale to front the bid.
Deloitte said it was too early to say if the interest from Coombes would result in a sale, but the administrator confirmed it is weighing up a number of offers for what is left of the company.
These offers include a bid by internet retailer Appliances Online for Comet's website and brand, although this is unlikely to save any jobs, as the business would be moved entirely online.
The electrical retailer collapsed into administration just under a year after it was taken over by private investment firm OpCapita - the same company that helped to save much of Game Group when that collapsed earlier this year.
OpCapita pumped tens of millions of pounds into Comet, but with consumers finding cheaper deals online and a lack of credit insurance scaring off suppliers, Comet was unable to recover and filed for administration at the start of November.
Deloitte's takeover as administrator lead to the closure of Comet's website, replaced with a message announcing the start of mass clearance sales in an attempt to raise much-needed capital.
As was the case with Game Group, retailers in administration do not usually allow customers to buy goods with store credit or gift cards, but Comet reversed its stance on this after the mother of a boy with cerebral palsy was unable to exchange a voucher for an iPad to help with her son's learning.
The story gained widespread media attention and as a result Deloitte announced that gift cards would be accepted.
Comet employed 6,611 staff before Deloitte made between 1,500 and 2,000 redundancies and announced the closure of 40 of Comet's 236 stores. ANother 125 stores will close by the end of December, leaving 70 still trading
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