Comet was a major electrical goods retailer in the UK, selling a range of household appliances and consumer electronics. In 2011 it had around 245 stores across the country, with sales of £1.5bn. Until that year, it was the local subsidiary of Kesa Electricals, Europe's third-largest electrical goods retailer, operating in several countries across the region. Kesa had itself been spun off from Anglo-French DIY retail group Kingfisher in 2003 to house Comet and its French counterpart Darty. However, Comet delivered poor performance in the hard-pressed UK market for several years and was sold to private equity buyer OpCapita in 2011 for a nominal price. With no significant improvement in performance, Comet ran out of cash the following year and finally called in administrators in November 2012. No buyers were found for the existing retail business, causing all stores to close at the end of that year. Kesa Electricals changed its name later that year to Darty Group, operating the Darty brand in France, Vanden Borre in the Netherlands and BCC in Belgium. In 2016 it was the subject of a bidding battle between French chain Fnac and South African group Steinhoff. Fnac clinched victory with an offer that valued Darty at £900m.
Capsule checked 13th April 2018
Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Apr 2016: The battle for French white goods retailer Darty raged on, with rival bidders Fnac and Conforama issuing a succession of competing offers, including no less than four different bids in a single day at the end of last week. Fnac's original offer for Darty last September was for just 101p per share, to be paid entirely in stock. Following the emergence of the Conforama challenge, Fnac had been forced to increase this several times, reaching what it called a "final offer" early this week of 170p, now all in cash, leapfrogging Conforama's most recent all-cash offer of 160p. At the same time, the two rivals had built substantial stakes in the business to force their case, with Fnac amassing a leading position of almost 30% of equity and pledges for another 22%. Conforama acquired 20% with pledges of a further 7%. However that group finally threw in the towel this morning, saying it would not make a new bid. Fnac's victorious offer values the UK-listed retailer at £900m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: With the summer lull over, there are numerous other deals in the pipeline. France could get a new national electrical goods champion with the proposed takeover of white goods retailer Darty by consumer electronics and entertainment group Fnac. The deal values Darty at around €640m. If concluded it would create a company with combined sales of over €7bn, to rival Germany's MediaMarkt-Saturn (part of Metro Group) and Dixons Carphone of the UK. Fnac was previously part of what is now Kering; Darty was owned until 2003 by UK DIY giant Kingfisher.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Nov 2012: Retailer Comet, until recently the UK's second-largest electronics chain, called in administrators, becoming the biggest casualty so far this year of economic worries and the shift to online purchasing. Unlike several other chains which failed this year but continue to trade in a greatly reduced form, the Comet brand name looks unlikely to survive its current predicament. It was already facing imminent collapse when it was acquired by turnaround fund OpCapita last year for just £2.
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