Kesa plunged into a loss by falling Comet

ELECTRICALS retailer Kesa swung to a loss in the first half, dragged down by the dire performance of its Comet stores, it said yesterday.

Kesa’s results yesterday will be the last to include Comet, which is being sold to private equity buyers OpCapita for a nominal £2.

Kesa will also pay a cash dowry of €50m (£42.6m) to cover liabilities at its 245 Comet stores.

Comet’s losses increased from €6.4m to €25.7m, with revenues down 21 per cent to €683m, in the six months to 31 October.

The group swung to pre-tax losses of €147.7m, from pre-tax profits of €27.2m last year. The retailer has been hit by the consumer downturn with households cutting back on their spending.

With Kesa offloading Comet, the Darty chain in France will be its main business. However, the tough economy on France is taking its toll on that business, which reported a 3.7 per cent drop in like for like sales

In Spain, Italy and France, sales were down eight per cent. Kesa chief executive Thierry Falque-Pierrotin said: “We believe that the Comet disposal will strengthen the group”.

Kesa will take a total £170m writedown on Comet where it is covering the pension liabilities as part of the deal with OpCapita, which has confirmed it has funding for the purchase.