In a possible last minute reprieve high street retailer Comet may be bought out by Oxfam in a deal which could create thousands of volunteer positions across the UK.
In an email to staff Comet chief executive Bob Darke said the board was “urgently working with its advisers to offer positions to anyone unemployed with at least 4.5 hours to spare a week.”
Insolvency experts at Deloitte are on standby to take over 240 stores, which will trade as normal this weekend before calling on people from hard pressed communities to drop off any unwanted items in front of shop doorways before 15 November.
A shopper at a Comet store in north London said: "It’s very warming to think that we will have another charity shop in the neighbourhood." He intended to buy a Bang and Olufsen audio system but was happy to hold out for a Dansette record player and a vinyl collection of Cliff Richards’s Greatest Hits. A female shopper was also enthusiastic: "Years ago I had problems with Comet's insurance. If Oxfam steps in I can buy electronic goods at a piss cheap price and just chuck anything away that don’t work."
Analysts do not expect Oxfam to take over the entire business meaning stores could be sold off to other charity organisations. The UK Dog Rescue Association is now in high level talks with Deloitte to look at taking over a selection of out of town retail park locations. “A spokesman for the Association said, “High street parking charges are a real bone of contention for us so out of town sites with free parking is a very attractive proposition.”
Meanwhile, Bob Darke reassured customers who have bought Comet vouchers, “I am happy to announce that these vouchers are now exchangeable for a range of goods including Oxfam bee boxes, Fairtrade coffee and a wonderful range of charity Christmas cards.”