Hundreds of jobs under threat at Comet
HUNDREDS of jobs in the Bristol areaare under threat after it emerged retail giant Comet is to go into administration.
The firm has stores in St Philips, Longwell Green and in Weston-super-Mare but also employs more than 400 people at a call centre in Clevedon, where it is the town's biggest employer.
Reports were circulating widely yesterday that Comet was a matter of days away from going into administration.
The company employs around 6,000 staff across the UK at its 240 stores and at its offices in Clevedon.
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As reported in The Post Comet was bought for a nominal £2 by investment firm OpCapita at the start of the year.
At the time the centre in Clevedon was threatened with closure but won a last minute reprieve following a review.
But it is now in deep trouble because it has been unable to secure the insurance needed to keep suppliers happy.
According to reports accountancy firm Deloitte has already been lined up to handle the administration and will begin by attempting to find buyers for the company's 240 stores.
The move is expected to lead to a pre-Christmas rush for discounted stock as the administrator looks to wind down supplies and raise as much cash for creditors as possible.
However, the call centre in Clevedon and its workforce is facing a bleak future.
Comet's collapse is one of the biggest in the retail sector since Woolworths in 2008 and comes a month after the failure of JJB Sports.
Other recent casualties on the hard-pressed High Street have included Clinton Cards, Blacks Leisure, Game and Peacocks.
Just over a year ago the giant Best Buy store in Cribbs Causeway was closed down by its owners.
The electrical retail market has been one of the hardest hit by recession with hard-pressed shoppers turning to the internet and supermarkets in their droves for cheaper alternatives.
At the start of the year Comet, announced the Clevedon call centre may merge with another in Hull as part of a move to axe hundreds of jobs.
Staff were told that around 150 jobs at the centre – Comet's main customer support office – could go.
At the time bosses said they needed to review all areas of the business and the company's working practices while retaining focus on delivering "great products and great customer service".
Following what it called extensive research and a 90-day consultation with staff comet announced that the centre in Clevedon will stay open and its call centre in Hull would close.
However, it is becoming obvious that the rescue package has failed to revive the ailing company's fortunes.
Comet was founded in 1933 by George Hollingbery in Hull as Comet Battery Stores Limited and specialised in batteries.
The first Comet superstore opened in Hull in 1968 and the company was listed on the stock market two years later, before being acquired by Kingfisher for £129 million in 1984.
Comet then acquired Norweb Retail and increased its store portfolio to more than 250 nationwide in 1996.