MORE than 700 jobs at stricken electricals chain Comet have been axed in the latest round of redundancies by the company’s administrator.
Deloitte said 603 jobs have gone from the company’s home delivery network, which operates from 12 hubs across the UK.
They include 41 jobs at the firm’s Leeds hub.
A further 57 employees have been made redundant from its head office at Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire along with 56 from a call centre in Clevedon and 17 from an office in Hull.
The sites were also the subject of 330 redundancies announced by the administrator last week.
There have been no job losses to date at Comet stores, but Deloitte has warned that up to 41 stores may have to close before the end of this month unless a buyer is found for the business.
The delivery network will continue to operate with a much reduced workforce kept on to complete deliveries and support the repairs operation.
Deloitte joint administrator Chris Farrington said talks continued with parties interested in parts of the business, but that it was necessary to begin a store closure programme and to scale back the company’s support functions.
A closing down sale with increased discounts has begun in 27 stores – including ones in Halifax, Crown Point in Leeds and at Sheffield.
A further 14 stores – so far unnamed – may be identified for closure in the coming days unless a buyer can be found or new terms agreed with landlords.
Comet’s 236 stores include one at Leeds Road in Huddersfield.
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.
The group was hit by weak high street trading conditions, competition from online rivals and being unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers.
In particular, it was knocked by the lack of first-time home buyers, which had been key customers for Comet, according to Deloitte.
Comet’s administration comes just months after it was taken over by investment firm OpCapita, which bought the chain for a nominal £2 in February.
Angry staff at the chain have called for ministers to investigate the retailer’s collapse and the way its former private equity owners ran the company.
The locations of the other 14 stores which may have to close by the end of November have not been disclosed.