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Torquay Comet store to shut with loss of 30 jobs

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 08, 2012

closing: The closing down signs go up at Comet at The Willows, Torquay

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THE Comet store at The Willows in Torquay is to close with 30 staff losing their jobs before Christmas.

Hopes of a buyer for the electrical giant's 195 stores are fading and closing down signs have now been posted up throughout the Torquay branch.

A spokesman for administrators, Deloitte, confirmed all the stores will close before Christmas if a buyer is not found, but no date has been announced.

The first wave of Comet stores have already shut.

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Deloitte confirmed 125 branches, including The Willows, will close over the coming weeks, when their stock runs out, with the loss of 2,500 workers.

A further 70 stores, with 1,200 staff, will remain open and continue to get new stock, but are also likely to close if a buyer cannot be found.

The collapse of Comet marks one of the biggest high street casualties since the demise of Woolworths, in 2008, and came a month after the failure of JJB Sports.

At the Torquay store, staff said they were being kept in the dark about the date of the closure, but confirmed 30 would lose their jobs.

One said: "It is very sad and worrying for everybody, especially just before Christmas."

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  • DevonJanner  |  December 09 2012, 9:15AM

    yes ,the reality is all points east ,the west has fallen like the roman empire!!

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  • robocop1982  |  December 08 2012, 8:09PM

    I had a dream the world ended the other night and the moon dropped to earth and the earth stopped revolving around the sun and there was this enormous bang and massive ocean currents started sweeping and covering torbay. I have a strong psychic sense the world will soon end. ONE day the earth might stop revolving around the sun. This planet is just a test of time.

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  • eponymice  |  December 08 2012, 2:16PM

    @ oddman I do agree that asset stripping organisations are a depressing element of modern business, however, I am sure that you appreciate that Comet were in extremely serious difficulties before the acquisition by OpCapita (Henry Jackson) earlier this year. OpCapita paid a nominal 2 pounds for Comet and were actually given a 50 million pounds sweetener to take it off the hands of the then owner Darty/Kesa, one of the largest electrical retailing groups in Europe. I suggest that this indicates the pretty desperate plight that the business was in before the asset stripper appeared on the scene. The plight being caused by the outdated business model in the current economic climate and heavily impacted by the increasing popularity of internet shopping. I also agree that Deloitte will have a busy year next year and the next year...

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  • eponymice  |  December 07 2012, 10:53AM

    @spindleshanks It is evident that Torquay has considerably too much retail space. While the current economic downturn has undoubtedly impacted on the viability of many retail outlets, the evolving retail environment, referred to below, will continue to have a much greater and lasting impact. It is good to see that the Torquay neighbourhood plan recognises this inevitable transformation and considers change of use from retail to residential in some areas of Torquay centre, however, I do believe that this should also be extended to the main central shopping areas otherwise they will continue to be blighted by empty premises and the presence of sort of retail unit that only serves to drag the area further and further downhill.

  • PuttUK  |  December 07 2012, 9:06AM

    Whilst its a shame people loose thier jobs they were pretty usless in Comet. Reserve on the net, get a confomation email, drive over, and they dont have any, and dont seem to care. Would rather play on the iPads.

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  • oddman  |  December 07 2012, 8:19AM

    A casualty of the current economic climate and the internet?. Not directly a company that 3 years ago turned a profit of £47 million. Something needs to be done about these asset stripping companies coming in and making money form troubled retailers. Henry Jackson (an American billionaire) stands to make £150 million out of this whilst the staff have no job and will struggle to even get redundancy. They did it to MFI and Game will be next. Deloitte the administration firm will be busy in the new year, Dreams will be next I am afraid.

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  • spindleshanks  |  December 07 2012, 7:48AM

    The whole issue has implications for town centre regeneration and one of the points raised at one of the first meetings of the Torquay Neighbourhood Plan town centre group was that Torquay may actually have too much retail space and may need to contract. Online shopping should be viewed as "out of town" shopping and has already had the same impact on Torquay's high street as the retail complex at the Willows. I phoned VAX the other day to buy a new electric motor for our carpet cleaner, only to be told that for £40 the company would collect the entire machine and if it couldn't be repaired, a brand new replacement machine would be sent out by courier. Guess what we now possess? Made in China and with a 2 year guarantee. With that type of service now available from the manufacturers it is no wonder Comet is where it is.

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  • eponymice  |  December 06 2012, 2:13PM

    Naturally I feel sorry for anyone loosing their job through redundancy, however Comet was a prime example of a doomed business model in an evolving retail environment and it should not come as surprise to anyone that they have folded. As realityzone indicates internet trading has made Comet and similar bricks and mortar outlets redundant. They did not have anything special to attract customers - the staff, in the main, had poor product knowledge and indifferent social skills and the prices, even during sales, could be bettered online. Currys will probably be next in line unless they are able to survive for a while now that Comet has gone, perhaps until the generation still buying from bricks and mortar outlets hands over to those who now make the majority of their purchases online.

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  • realityzone  |  December 06 2012, 8:56AM

    I think we can be in no doubt that Comet would not be in trouble but for the loss of sales to internet trading which is quite significant in a lot of electronic goods, and of course the recession. But we must feel sympathy for all those loosing their jobs here

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