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Hilco eyes Peter Jones to reverse falling Comet sales

17 Oct 2011

British entrepreneur Peter Jones is reportedly in line for an executive position at embattled UK electrical retailer Comet.

According to the Sunday Times, turnaround specialist Hilco, which is planning to bid for the retailer, approached Jones and offered him a role as an executive chairman.

Comet owner Kesa Electricals put the 248-store chain up for sale in mid-2011 following a dramatic fall in sales. Although Kesa has yet to announce any potential buyers, Hilco and Henry Jackson’s buy-out firm Opcapita are rumoured to be interested in the sale.

Kesa, which also controls Darty France and Netherlands-based retailers Vanden Borre and BCC, reported a 9.9 per cent decline in group revenues between May and July this year, a fall largely caused by a 22 per cent drop in sales at Comet.

Jones, who is rumoured to be worth around £220m, is likely to move the beleaguered chain away from low-margin white goods such as fridges and washing machines and towards higher-margin goods, such as tablet computers, smartphones and laptops.

The telecoms-focused investor recently made £38m from the sale of wireless data solution provider Wireless Logic to UK mid-market private equity firm ECI Partners. The company was formed in 1999 and acquired by Jones in 2002.

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