STRICKEN electricals retail chain Comet will close 41 stores by the end of the month unless a buyer can be found, administrators confirmed today.
Redundancies were inevitable although administrators Deloitte said they would look to place staff from closing stores into other nearby outlets.
Up to 500 jobs could be under threat at 27 of the stores where closing down sales begun today. A further 14 closing down sales will begin early next week.
Chris Farrington, joint administrator, said: "We are very grateful to the company's employees for their professionalism, loyalty and support at this difficult time and all employees will of course continue to be paid for all the work they do while the company is in administration."
Deloitte had already announced 330 redundancies at the company, but there have been no job losses among shop staff as yet and all the chains 236 stores remain open at present.
The bulk of the staff cuts have been made in Comets head office in Rickmansworth, Herts, as well as its site in Hull and call centre in Clevedon, Somerset.
The collapse of Comet marks one of the biggest high street casualties since the demise of Woolworths in 2008 and came a month after the failure of JJB Sports.
The group 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, which had been key customers for Comet, according to Deloitte.
The high street electricals market in the UK has come under huge pressure as cash-strapped shoppers put off purchases of big-ticket items such as TVs and large appliances and online rivals take a bigger slice of the sector.
Comet's administration comes just months after it was taken over by investment firm OpCapita, which bought the chain for a nominal £2 in February.
Angry staff at the chain have called for ministers to investigate the retailers collapse and the way its former private equity owners ran the company.