December 19, 2012, 11:48 AM

U.K. electronics chain Comet shutters its web site and stores

Comet.co.uk was a big U.K. e-commerce brand.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Lead Photo

Comet rolls off into the sunset.

After a troubled year financially one of oldest store and online retailers of consumer electronics in the United Kingdom has closed its doors for good.

After failing to find a new buyer and filing for bankruptcy, which in the U.K. is referred to as administration, Comet Group Plc, No. 20 in the Top 400 Europe with Internet Retailer-estimated annual web sales of about $1.01 billion in 2011, has closed its e-commerce site and its network of more than 240 stores.

Comet.co.uk has been shuttered, and all stores in the U.K. were scheduled to close yesterday, a note on the retailer’s web site says.

In October 2011 Comet was sold for a token $3 by Kesa Electricals Plc, a part of Darty Group, No. 31 in Top 400 Europe, to OpCapita LLP, a U.K. private banking group. As part of the final deal, Kesa and Darty also provided OpCapita with about $66 million in working capital to keep the brand alive. “The truth of the matter is we had to pay to get the business away,” Kesa chairman David Newlands said at the time of the transaction.

At its peak about 2008, Comet, which launched as a discount consumer electronics chain in 1964, generated annual sales of about $3.25 billion, according to Kesa financial reports. But even prior to its sale to OpCapita, Comet had been hurting financially because of the economic downturn in the U.K.

It’s unclear what will happen in the near term to Comet’s e-commerce assets, intellectual property and marketing list. The company’s liquidation is being handled by Deloitte LLP, which has yet to announce any auction dates.

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