UK retailer Comet to close 41 stores

LONDON Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:06pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - British electrical retailer Comet will close 41 of its 236 stores by the end of November unless a buyer for the struggling chain can be found, the administrator running the firm said on Saturday.

The move would lead to an unspecified number of job losses, administrator Deloitte said.

The chain entered administration, a form of protection from creditors, earlier this month and has already laid off 330 head office workers from its 6,500 staff.

Closing down sales had begun on Saturday at 27 of the stores earmarked for closure and would start in the other 14 early next week, the administrator said.

Additional discounting would be introduced at its other 195 outlets, which will continue to trade as normal.

Deloitte said it continued to hold discussions with unnamed parties interested in buying parts of the business.

"Regrettably, however, it is necessary to begin a store closure programme and an employee consultation process is under way," Deloitte said in a statement.

"While the administrators will look to redeploy staff from any stores which do face closure to other stores nearby, there will inevitably be redundancies," it added.

Comet is the latest British retailer brought low by a consumer downturn, joining a roll-call of stores falling into administration this year including JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Game Group, Peacocks and Aquascutum.

The store, which has an estimated 6 percent UK market share, was acquired by private investment firm OpCapita for a nominal 2 pounds in February from Darty, then known as Kesa Electricals.

(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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