Tech chain Comet is going to be sold to an investment firm for just £2, just days after Carphone Warehouse announced it would be shutting down Best Buy shops in the UK. Are we witnessing the end of physical tech retailers?
Comet, which has 248 shops throughout the UK, specialises in stuff like dishwashers and fridges, but also flogs tellies, tablets, cameras, games consoles, laptops and other kinds of consumer tech.
But despite being a recognisable name, Comet has been making a loss. Retail group Kesa has offloaded the struggling chain to a private-equity house called OpCapita, a firm that specialises in turning around sorry business situations, the Guardian reports.
OpCapita will fork over £2 to Kesa to take charge of Comet, while Kesa is giving new the owner £50m to take the ailing chain off its hands.
Kesa will get a return on those 50 million sheets if Comet is sold on for more than £70m, but Kesa's chairman isn't optimistic about the chances of that happening, saying, "We had to pay £50m to get the business away. We will write it off as having no value."
Tough times for tech tradesmen. OpCapita has said it will be adopting cost-cutting plans, but didn't intend to make redundancies or start a "significant store closure programme". More details are expected to emerge in February, when the deal is completed.
The rough economy has hit tech shops hard, with many buyers less willing to spend loads of dosh of what they perceive as luxurious technical fripperies. The gadget market in general has changed enormously in the last few years as well, with smart phones -- usually sold by networks or specialist mobile shops -- taking over the functions of many standalone gadgets. Add to that the fact that lots of gadgetry is cheaper online, and it starts to look like very shaky ground for highstreet tech emporia.
Do you still buy your gadgets from the big tech retail chains? Do you think these kinds of shops can survive? Is it a shame if they don't? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook wall.