Comet appeared to enter its final death throes today as administrators announced 125 store closures in a move expected to trigger around 3,000 job losses.
Deloitte said it would start closing stores in December if an “acceptable offer” was not made for the stricken electricals chain in the next few days.
And in a worrying sign for the remaining stores, Deloitte said the 70 stores left open would only continue to trade until stock is cleared.
The administrators also plan to close the company’s distribution centre in Harlow, Essex, on Friday and will reduce back-office functions at Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, Hull and Clevedon in Somerset.
The collapse of the firm marks one of the biggest high street casualties since the demise of Woolworths in 2008 and followed a month after the failure of JJB Sports.
Today’s store closures comes as a major blow after hopes had been raised of a rescue deal after it emerged Southampton-based entrepreneur Clive Coombes was considering making a bid.
Appliances Online last week also confirmed it had tabled a “seven-figure sum” for Comet’s website under plans to continue the business exclusively online.
Chris Farrington, joint administrator at Deloitte, said administrators remain in talks with a “small number of interested parties” and hope that a sale can still be achieved.
But he said in the absence of a firm offer for the whole of the business, it was necessary to begin closing stores.
Comet employees are to be paid salary, accrued holiday pay, overtime and bonuses for the period covered by the administration.
Deloitte added that it has contacted more than 35 prospective employers who are “keen” to offer roles to ex-Comet employees.
Comet was hit by weak high street trading conditions, competition from online rivals and being unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers.
In particular, it was knocked by the lack of first-time home-buyers, who had been key customers for Comet.