Thousands to lose jobs as last Comet branches close

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The Independent Online

Beleaguered electrical goods chain Comet is set to close its doors for the final time tomorrow, heralding the loss of thousands more jobs just a week before Christmas.

Sources at administrator Deloitte said the retailer's final 50 stores will close after it failed to find a buyer for the business. Around 3,500 of the group's original 6,600 staff have already been cut or left since Deloitte was appointed at the beginning of November, with nearly 3,000 more employees now poised to join them on the dole.

Talks over a potential rescue of 140 Comet stores by a mystery property tycoon are now "more unlikely than likely" to result in a deal, insiders say, with Deloitte now looking to raise cash for creditors by selling off the rights to the brand and the web business.

Comet – founded in 1933 – was bought for a token £2 by private equity firm OpCapita in February.

But trading conditions have been dire as those consumers who aren't too cautious to want to splash out on big-ticket items are migrating to the internet.

Trade credit insurers were also unwilling to cover Comet's suppliers, triggering a cash crisis.

Deloitte's statement of proposals is understood to show the group collapsed under the weight of almost £200m in losses, leaving no chance of most creditors and landlords getting their money back. Unsecured creditors include HM Customs & Revenue, which is owed £26.1m in VAT and PAYE payments.