Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson meets Deloitte's chief to

Neville Kahn and Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson met with a senior member of the firm which has been handling the closure of electricals giant Comet, to discuss former staff members' concerns over the collapse.

Comet closed its doors on December 20. Thirty-six people lost their jobs at the Aintree store with a total of 11,000 Comet employees nationally finding themselves unemployed.

Before the closure, Bill Esterson met with store staff to discuss their concerns which included allegations that the new owners of the retail giant, OpCapita, who bought the company for just £2 10 months earlier, had run the business into the ground.

Finance company Deloitte announced on November 1 that Comet had gone into administration.

Meeting in Parliament with Deloitte partner Neville Kahn, Bill put to him some of the staff members' concerns.

Bill said: "I had a very constructive meeting with Mr Kahn in which I raised some of the issues raised with me by the former staff at the Aintree Comet store.

"This included allegations about the behind the scenes dealings at Comet.

"Suspicion about how the business was being run surfaced immediately after the November 1 announcement that Comet was going into administration because in the months since the February buy-out, the company was reporting to staff that things were on the up and targets were not just being met, but actually being exceeded.

"Mr Kahn has since confirmed that Deloitte's investigations have shown that the pre-November optimism was very much misplaced.

"While they have dispelled some of the allegations, Deloitte is looking into some of the other allegations. The whole matter is also currently being investigated by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills.

"But Mr Kahn has taken away some of the concerns about how the staff were treated, whether they were given the support that they were promised and whether they received outstanding bonus pay."

Bill said he wanted to see action taken to bring to an end the practice of predatory companies profiteering from the collapse of businesses.

Bill said: "Some of the biggest names on the high street are suffering at the moment. Comet went at the end of last year, but in the past couple of weeks we have seen HMV and Blockbuster both announce that they are going through very tough times.

"As well as the Department for Business's investigation into what happened at Comet, I want the government to look at what can be learned from Comet, what can be learned from the demise of Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster video.

"We need to learn from the collapse of all of these one time highly successful high street businesses.

"We need to make sure that staff, like those at Comet, are given the support they need.

"And we need to ensure that businesses aren't profiting from the demise of high street chains, while the tax payer is left to foot the bill for redundancy payments for the staff."

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