Comet is about to be knocked out of its orbit, according to reports. The electrical goods retailer is about to enter administration and could disappear altogether.
Comet could file to appoint administrators as early as today, the FT reports. Deloitte is touted as a potential administrator, stepping in to try and reverse its fortunes, sell off parts of the business, or ultimately wind up the company entirely.
That's very bad news indeed for Comet's 6,500 staff, in 240 stores across the country.
Almost exactly a year ago, the entire company was sold to an investment firm for £2. But Comet failed to turn round its losses -- estimated to be £35m up to April -- and has been trading without credit insurance, which protects suppliers should a shop go under. Without that guarantee, Comet has been forced to pay suppliers in cash for crucial Christmas stock.
If Comet does disappear, there'll be a worrying lack of competition in the high streets and retail parks of our green and pleasant land. PC World and Curry's are part of the same company, leaving just the smaller likes of Maplin, Richer Sounds and independent retailers that I can think of flogging gadgets from bricks and mortar stores. And supermarkets, of course, but good luck getting advice on aspect ratios or firmware updates from trolley-pushing staff.
It's certainly hard flogging gadgets in real-life shops. Under pressure from Amazon and other Internet retailers, Dixons, Game and Best Buy have in recent years shuffled off to the great high street in the sky, alongside other obsolete tech shops such as Rumbelows and Radio Rentals. Despite being a massive chain in the US, Best Buy lasted little more than 18 months in the cut-throat retail parks of Blighty.
Do you buy your gadgets on the high street, or get your gear online? What can bricks and mortar stores do to lure you back? Share your tips in the comments or on our bargain-basement Facebook page.
Update: Comet has confirmed that it is entering administration next week. Stores will stay open for the moment; if you have any Comet gift cards or vouchers, get down to your nearest store and spend 'em while you got 'em.