Dozens of jobs at risk as retailer closes 13 stores

MORE Comet stores are to close in the West of Scotland with the loss of dozens of jobs.

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Administrators are to axe outlets at the city's Parkhead Forge, as well as in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, and Uddingston and Hamilton in South Lanarkshire.

The doomed stores have a combined workforce of 62 permanent and part-time workers. Along with colleagues at a store in Glasgow's Great Western Road they will lose their jobs at the end of next week.

The Great Western Road store was already on a closure list of 27. Today another hit list involving 13 other stores was made public, including the four in the Glasgow area.

It means 40 stores will be closed next weekend unless a buyer steps in.

While that seems increas-ingly unlikely, it emerged today that entrepreneur John Roberts has tabled an undisclosed seven-figure bid for the stricken electrical giant's website. The move comes 12 years after he launched Appliances Online.

He said his Bolton-based business would hope to run the Comet brand online, but said a deal would depend on whether he could rescue it before too much damage was done through the administration process.

Mr Roberts, who said Comet's poor attitude to its customers caused its downfall, wants a quick sale and claimed it was unlikely Comet would survive in any form in the retail parks.

Today's announcement of more closures comes as no surprise. Each of the 13 had already launched liquidation sales. In Hamilton, furious customers who had queued to get into the store almost immediately walked out after discovering goods had only been discounted by 10%.

Administrator Deloitte today insisted that every attempt would be made to find alternative jobs for workers facing the sack but admitted that redundancies were "inevitable".

The Coatbridge store employs 12 full and part-time workers with another 12 staff employed at Parkhead Forge. The Uddingston store has 16 workers while 22 are based at Hamilton.

There was an unconfirmed report earlier today that a mystery buyer had lodged an undisclosed bid for 140 stores. If successful that could save more than 2000 jobs.

Deloitte said it had been in discussions with a number of interested parties over different parts of the Comet business.

So far 1500 jobs have already been axed, including 603 home delivery network jobs which were shed on Monday. Among the casualties were more than 60 workers at a delivery hub in Coatbridge.

The group was hit by competition from online rivals and being unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers.

gordon.thomson@eveningtimes.co.uk

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