Bleak Christmas forecast for workers at Comet, Clevedon UPDATED
By Prue_Reid | Saturday, November 03, 2012, 12:02
With only weeks to go before Christmas hundreds of workers at Comet in North Somerset fear for their jobs.
The electrical giant announced this week it is to go into administration.
The firm has a superstore at Weston-super-Mare and employs more than 400 people at a call centre in Clevedon.
Staff at the Kenn business park followed the progress of its demise by reading the financial newspapers and online rumours.
But this isn't the first time their jobs have been threatened.
Comet was bought for a nominal £2 by investment firm OpCapita at the start of the year and looked likely to close only to get an 11th hour reprieve.
Staff were official told of the development on Thursday morning at a series of meetings.
The company employs around 6,000 staff across the UK at its 240 stores and at its offices in Clevedon.
At the time of the takeover Clevedon was threatened with closure but won a last-minute reprieve.
A Clevedon father-of-three who didn't want to be named said: "From the reports any other takeover has been refused.
"Opcapta have done to us what they did to MFI, take the money and run."
And another worker posted a Spike Millagan poster on his social media page captioned: "We are all doomed."
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.
Comet was founded in 1933 by George Hollingbery in Hull as Comet Battery Stores Ltd 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.
STOP PRESS: Jobs have been axed at Comet's call centre in Clevedon in a round of 330 job losses at the troubled electrical giant.
A total of 42 jobs are to go from the Clevedon branch, at Rivermead Court, Windmill Road, which employs more than 400 people.
Administrators to Comet made the workers in head office, administrative and marketing roles redundant yesterday as buyers continued to be sought for the collapsed electrical retailer's stores.
Neville Kahn, joint administrator from accountants Deloitte, said that all 236 stores continued to trade and were experiencing 'record' sales following the start of a fire sale of a wide range of items two days ago.
Announcing the first job cuts since being appointed a week ago, Deloitte said 99 staff in the head office in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, 53 in Hull and 42 in the call centre in Clevedon were affected by the decision.