Comet's woes deepen as Kesa heads for the exit

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Comet's woes deepen as Kesa heads for the exit

Alex Scroxton

With the final disposal of the struggling Comet retail chain now less than a month away, owner Kesa Electricals has admitted that given the chain's Christmas performance it is now likely that the net debt in the business will exceed the agreed net debt threshold by between £10m and £15m.

Kesa reported on its performance during the crucial period between 1 November 2011 and 8 January 2012 this morning, revealing that Comet's gross margins improved by around 20 basis points in the period.

However, revenues slumped 15% in local currency and 14.5% on a like-for-like basis, with flat web sales.

An improving trend prior to Christmas was offset by a very poor performance from Boxing Day through to the New Year period, when sales discounts can usually be relied upon to get customers through the doors.

This meant that despite a reasonable performance in several of its European markets, continuing group sales at Kesa were flat as reported in Euros, while like-for-like sales in local currency fell 1.3%.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Comet is in talks with its credit insurers over whether or not they will continue to cover it, and for how much, following its £2 sale to an investment consortium led by OpCapita.

The paper said some insurers were keen to find out how OpCapita's involvement in and financing of the acquisition would affect suppliers should Comet go under.

Comet is also in the process of being keelhauled by Microsoft over allegations that it pirated over 90,000 copies of Windows, casting further doubt on the future of the 248 store chain.

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