Comet brand and website up for grabs as high street presence disappears

By Matthew Chapman, marketingmagazine.co.uk, Wednesday, 19 December 2012 09:03AM

Comet has disappeared from the high street after 79 years with the closure of its final 35 stores, as administrator Deloitte considers options to keep the brand and website alive.

Comet: shuts high street stores

Comet: shuts high street stores

Interested parties in the Comet website include Appliances Online-founder John Roberts, who revealed last month that he had put in a seven figure bid to buy the brand’s website.

The collapse of the 79-year-old retailer will result in the loss of around 7,000 jobs and it emerged yesterday that business secretary Vince Cable has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the insolvency.

Chris Farrington, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: "Despite significant efforts to find a buyer for all or parts of the business as a going concern, the administrators did not receive an acceptable offer and so unfortunately it has become necessary to close the remaining stores.

"Although we had discussions with a number of interested parties, the substantial working capital requirements to fund the business was a significant concern for these parties and was a key factor in preventing a deal being reached.

Farrington said the administrators will now "consider the options with regards other assets of the company, including the brand and website".

Comet’s collapse is expected to leave the taxpayer footing a bill for £26m in unpaid taxes and about £23m for redundancy costs.

The investigation was announced by Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, on Twitter following the MP meeting with Cable and asking questions in Parliament around the Comet administration.

Comet was acquired for £2 in November last year by Hailey Holdings and Hailey Acquisitions, holding companies backed by private equity firm OpCapita.

Former Comet-owner Kesa paid OpCapita a £50m dowry as part of the deal that saw the new owner pledge to keep Comet as a going concern for 18 months – a pledge it has failed to keep.

OpCapita, which is run by Henry Jackson, has issued a statement revealing it will co-operate fully with Cable’s investigation.

Jackson was also involved with the failure of furniture retailer MFI, which involved him selling the retailer before its collapse after negotiating a reported dowry of £130m before its purchase.

This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk

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