Electricals retailer to close up to 10 Comet stores and axe jobs

11 May 2011
By Rachael Fergusson
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Up to 10 Comet stores to close

Up to 10 Comet stores to close

Comet owner Kesa Electricals is closing up to 10 stores this year after suffering another slide in UK sales.

The retailer, which has 248 outlets in the UK, will also shut one of its three warehouses and axe 12 of its 14 regional service centres, which are used as a base by its engineers who repair and service its products.

With Comet closing between five and 10 stores this year, Kesa said it expects to make 150 redundancies in the UK, including 40 recent job cuts at Comet’s head offices in Hull and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire.

Same-store sales at Comet declined by 15.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to April 30 and are now down 7.7 per cent over the past year as the retailer struggled in difficult market conditions following January’s increase in VAT to 20 per cent. Online sales in the UK reduced by eight per cent.

Kesa warned earlier this year that Comet will make a loss this year after trade was disrupted by snow in the run-up to Christmas.

The company said it was likely that the warehouse to close would be in Corby, Northamptonshire, although this is subject to consultation.

Kesa’s business in France, where it trades as Darty, saw a five per cent rise in same-store sales in the final quarter of the financial year but this was offset by struggling markets such as the UK and Spain. Overall like-for-like sales were down 3.1 per cent in the period, which was slightly better than the City’s expectations of a fall of five per cent.

Shares rose one per cent as traders reacted to the smaller than expected sales slump and the restructuring plans.

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