Corporate turnround firms eye Comet

The former owners of MFI and a former executive of Kingfisher are among those to have expressed an interest in Comet, the UK electrical retailer that was recently put up for sale, it was reported today.

Owner Kesa Electricals admitted it was considering its “strategic alternatives” for the 249-store business last month when it revealed the chain made a loss of £8.9 million in the year to April 30.

John Weight, the head of turnround business, Weight Partners and a former Kingfisher executive is one of a number of corporate turnround firms said to have made an offer for the chain, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

These also include a joint offer from investment firm Gordon Brothers and OpCapita, an investment firm that owned MFI under its previous name of Merchant Equity Partners. Hilco UK, the former owner of Habitat in the UK, is also said to be among the interested parties.

Kesa has already taken taking action to try to improve Comet’s performance through store refits and initiatives such as dedicated areas for accessories and a refreshed brand.

To cut costs, it also announced it would shut one of its three warehouses and axe 12 of its 14 regional service centres, while nine under-performing stores would also close.

Comet, which employs 10,000 people, has been hit by the growth in internet sales and by supermarkets increasingly moving into the market for electrical goods. The squeeze on household incomes has also hit sales of big ticket items such as TVs.

Kesa is said to be prepared to hold onto the chain if it cannot find a suitable buyer, even though analysts suggest losses could get much worse.

Nick Bubb, a retail analyst at Arden Partners, suggested recently that Comet’s losses could this year could rise to more than £20 million.

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