Comet store trades on as Deloitte calls in

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Staff from administrators Deloitte visited Bury St Edmunds’ Comet store on Wednesday as part of their assessment of the chain.

The store in Easlea Road is one of 236 Comet stores across the UK. The administrators say they plan to keep the stores trading as long as possible.

Staff at the Bury store, where the manager had no comment, were busy putting up sale stickers but did not know when they sale would start.

Deloitte said “Like many other retailers, Comet has been hit hard by the uncertain economic environment, slow consumer spending and lack of consumer confidence.

“Despite significant investment in the business and the efforts of the experienced management team, Comet has struggled to compete with online retailers which have far lower overhead costs and can offer cheaper products.”

Neville Kahn, joint administrator and restructuring services partner at Deloitte, said: “Our immediate priorities are to stabilise the business, fully assess its financial position and begin an urgent process to seek a suitable buyer which would also preserve jobs.

“In the meantime, all stores will continue to trade and all employees will continue to be paid.

“We appreciate the cooperation and support from the management, staff, customers, landlords and suppliers at what is clearly a very difficult time.”

At first Deloitte said gift cards would not be honoured, but on Tuesday night announced that it was satisfied they could be accepted. It had been unsure those sold by ‘partners’ had been fully paid for.

Comet employs 6,611 people. John Hannett, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw said: “This is disastrous news for Comet’s employees and more grim news for the High Street and economy.

“We urge administrators to keep stores trading for as long as possible to enable a buyer or buyers to be found.

“Usdaw members employed by Comet should contact their local union office as soon as possible.”

The administrators say they intend to fulfil customer orders

where the item is currently in stock in Comet’s delivery centres.

If stock is not available, and customers do not receive their order, those who have paid by credit card may be eligible for a refund from their credit card provider.

Customers with inquiries about outstanding orders should contact Comet’s customer helpline on 0844 800 9595.

Comet’s website has information for customers at http://storage.comet.co.uk/www/splash/html/questions.htm

Extended warranties bought previously are unaffected by Comet going into administration and remain valid because they are provided by a third party.