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Retail chain 'to close stores'
Stricken electricals retail chain Comet is preparing to close between 30 and 40 stores by the end of the month, according to reports.
Administrators have so far announced 330 redundancies at the company but there have been no job losses among shop staff and all the chain's 236 stores remain open.
The bulk of the staff cuts have been made in Comet's head office in Rickmansworth, Herts, as well as its site in Hull and call centre in Clevedon, Somerset. But the reported closures could threaten the livelihoods of up to 1,000 front line staff.
It has also been suggested that Deloitte, who was appointed administrator when the chain collapsed earlier this month, is preparing to close down the retailer's home delivery operation, putting a further 500 employees at risk. The stores which do not close are expected to continue trading over Christmas.
Deloitte said it is holding talks with a number of potential buyers. Neville Kahn, joint administrator of Comet, said: "We are in discussions with a number of parties who have expressed interest in parts of the business and we continue to work hard to preserve jobs."
Deloitte added it was seeing record levels of trade after launching a sale across Comet stores last week.
The collapse of Comet marks one of the biggest high street casualties since the demise of Woolworths in 2008 and came a month after the failure of JJB Sports.
The group was hit by weak high street trading conditions, competition from online rivals and being unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers. In particular, it was knocked by the lack of first-time home buyers, which had been key customers for Comet, according to Deloitte.
The high street electricals market in the UK has come under huge pressure as cash-strapped shoppers put off purchases of big-ticket items such as TVs and large appliances and online rivals take a bigger slice of the sector.
Comet's administration comes just months after it was taken over by investment firm OpCapita, which bought the chain for a nominal £2 in February. Angry staff at the stricken electricals chain have called for ministers to investigate the retailer's collapse and way its former private equity owners ran the company.