The millionaire, his pop star wife and the fall of a high-street giant

Henry Jackson's OpCapita bought Comet for £2 – and could walk away with millions

After releasing an album and three singles, one featuring the rapper Snoop Dogg, the Canadian-born pop singer Stacey Jackson appeared to be enjoying another carefree day yesterday.

Having spent the weekend in Los Angeles for a series of what she called "super-productive" meetings, the glamorous wife of American financier Henry Jackson told her Twitter followers: "I've suddenly developed an addiction to pop chips! They are so yummy and totally guilt-free!"

Whether or not her husband has such a clear conscience is open to question, for Mr Jackson is the chief executive of OpCapita, a US investment company that acquired the British high-street electricals chain Comet this year, and led it into administration last week.

While the Jackson family enjoys a well-heeled lifestyle in Chelsea, west London, more than 6,600 Comet staff face redundancy after administrators were called in on Friday – nine months after OpCapita acquired the 236-store chain for a token £2.

As secured creditors, Mr Jackson's OpCapita and its backers could well receive the lion's share of a possible £50m liquidation sale of Comet, which was losing £35m at the time of the acquisition.

John Gorle, of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, said: "This will really stick in the craw of Comet's 6,600 staff and it should also anger taxpayers, who could end up footing the bill for any unpaid wages and redundancy pay."

Public anger at the way the administration has been handled so far has centred on the refusal to honour gift cards bought before Comet's collapse. At the weekend, Maria Horton, of Plymouth, was prevented from using a £500 voucher from the Family Fund charity to buy an iPad for her four-year-old son, Samuel, who has cerebral palsy.

Perhaps sensing the growing backlash, the administrator Deloitte last night said it would accept gift cards and fulfil purchases made before the administration where stock was available. Neville Kahn, the joint administrator, who led the administration of Woolworths, also raised hopes for a sale of parts of the business. He said: "We are progressing discussions with a number of interested parties."

However, The Independent understands that Deloitte is considering a stock fire-sale this week, and branches could close before Christmas.

Under its previous guise as Merchant Equity Partners, OpCapita acquired the flat-pack furniture retailer MFI for a nominal £1 in 2006. While MFI collapsed into administration in November 2008 and then disappeared, OpCapita has since reported that it made a "small profit" from the chain.

The Labour MP Alan Johnson said: "Comet's employees seem to be the unfortunate victims of a short-term investment strategy which is not untypical of this kind of private equity company." Comet said in May that its call centre in Hull, where Mr Johnson is an MP, was to close and moved to Bristol resulting in 240 jobs losses.

There are likely to be no such financial worries for OpCapita and other investors in Comet, such as London-based Greybull Capital, as they have placed the £50m dowry, £30m working capital and £40m of asset-backed loans into an investment vehicle to protect their money.

Ian Fletcher, of the British Property Federation, said: "It is Comet's staff and unsecured creditors, such as landlords, who may lose out while OpCapita seemingly takes its money back.

"This injustice further underlines the need for a wide-ranging review of the insolvency regime."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn