Administrator reveals further 700 redundancies at Comet

603 of the jobs have been lost from the company's home delivery network

More than 700 jobs at stricken electricals chain Comet were today axed in the latest round of redundancies by the company's administrator.

Deloitte said 603 jobs have been lost from the company's home delivery network, which operates from 12 hubs across the UK.

And it has made a further 57 employees redundant from Comet's head office at Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, as well as 56 from a call centre in Clevedon and 17 from an office in Hull. The sites were also the subject of 330 redundancies announced by the administrator last week.

There have been no job losses to date at Comet stores, but Deloitte warned on Saturday that up to 41 stores may have to close before the end of this month.

The delivery network will continue to operate, with a significantly reduced workforce retained to complete deliveries and support the repairs operation.

The jobs lost at the 12 hubs are at Aylesbury (59 staff), Chepstow (51), Coatbridge (62) Exeter (33), Gateshead (45), Harlow (52), Hedge End (48), Leeds (41), Maidstone (64), Nottingham (43), Skelmersdale (66), Wolverhampton (39).

Deloitte joint administrator Chris Farrington said discussions continued with parties interested in parts of the business but that it was necessary to begin a store closure programme and to scale back the company's support functions.

He added: "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."

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.

And deeper discounts will be applied to products across all Comet stores from tomorrow.

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 chain have called for ministers to investigate the retailer's collapse and the way its former private equity owners ran the company.

Closing down sales are under way at the following 27 stores: Aylesbury, Barnstaple, Barrow-in-Furness, Beckton, Birmingham/Perry Bar, Brighton, Bury St Edmunds, Christchurch, Crawley, Falkirk, Glasgow - Great Western, Gloucester (St Oswalds), Guildford, Halifax, Harlow, Leeds Crown Point, Luton, Margate, New Malden, Orpington, Rugby, Selly Oak, Sheffield - Drake House, Southend, Wrexham, Yeading, Yeovil.

The locations of the other 14 stores which may have to close by the end of November have not been disclosed.

PA

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