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Fears for two Comet stores as chains go into administration

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 02, 2012

JOBS RISK: Comet in Eastern Avenue. Below; Comet St Oswald's below.

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TROUBLED high street electrical chain Comet is to enter administration next week, with hundreds of jobs at risk across Gloucestershire.

Although it is not yet known which stores might close and whether any might be saved in a buy-out, it is feared those at St Oswald's Retail Park and Eastern Avenue will close.

The move could lead to a short-term boost for shoppers as prices get slashed to recoup funds in a pre-Christmas rush.

Comet has struggled against the tide of online retailers in a cut-throat market, with supermarkets also muscling in on trade.

Around 6,000 jobs are now at risk across the 240 stores nationwide.

Mark Owen, chairman of the Gloucester branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Although it is sad about Comet, it has been in trouble for some time.

"The reality is that they have been caught in a perfect storm with the state of the economy, supermarkets taking a large slice of their business and the rise of internet sales.

"It goes to show that we all need to protect and support our local stores like Gillman's, who may now benefit from the extra business."

French company Kesa paid OpCapita £50million to take the loss-making chain off its hands just nine months ago. OpCapita paid £2 for the chain.

Mike Warburton, from finance firm Grant Thornton, is confident a new buyer will emerge.

"We need high street competition and nobody wants to see empty shops. Comet is still a strong name," he added.

Ivan Taylor, chairman of Westgate Traders, said: "Comet has always been one of the high street's major players, but it has been hurt by the slowdown in the housing market that has led to a drop in demand for white goods. The two sites may be left empty but they are prime retail areas with an established footfall, so hopefully they will be filled relatively quickly."

Worried staff can contact the Retail Trust Helpline for advice on 0808 801 0808 or helpline@retailtrust.org.uk.

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