SCORES of retail jobs are under threat in Blackpool after the future of the Comet electrical chain was under threat.
The 240-strong electrical s chain confirmed plans for it to be placed into administration next week, marking one of the UK’s biggest retail failures in recent years.
Comet has stores at Squires Gate and HolyOake Avenue in Blackpool, and one at the Capitol Centre in Preston and employs around 6,500 nationwide. Staff were informed yesterday.
A spokesman said “Comet Group Limited can confirm that it has taken steps to seek the protection of the Court with a view to the Company entering into Administration during week commencing November 5. In the meantime the board is urgently working with its advisers to seek a solution to secure a viable future for the company.”
It is expected that administrators will seek a buyer for the business. A steady stream of customers at the Squires Gate store yesterday had queries about items currently on order or being repaired.
A staff member, who did not want to be named, said: “This is terrible.
“We knew something might happen but its come at the worst possible time, just before Christmas. We will have to wait to see if the jobs are safe.”
Customers with outstanding orders and those with gift cards and vouchers are being told it is “business as usual until further notice” and that the group intends to fulfil deliveries of products that have been paid for.
Dean Dunham, of youandyourrights.co.uk, urged those holding vouchers to use them now “before it’s too late”.
He said: “It is not usual for administrators to honour gift vouchers and they do not normally give refunds for them either.”
The news comes just months after Comet was taken over by investment firm OpCapita, which bought the chain for a nominal £2 in February.
It is thought OpCapita had been unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers. Comet’s collapse is one of the biggest since the demise of Woolworths in 2008 and comes a month after the failure of JJB Sports.
The UK high street electricals market has come under huge pressure as cash-strapped shoppers put off expensive purchases such as TVs and online rivals take a bigger slice of the sector.