Comet went into administration after losing its credit insurance last week, but stores are being kept open while administrators Deloitte search desperately for a buyer. This leaves the firm’s 7,000 staff in a pretty precarious situation, however, which is where Dixons comes in.
The electricals chain has offered to snap up Comet’s staff as part of its seasonal hiring splurge. ‘We are taking on a total of 3,000 people - 2,000 in the stores,’ says chief executive of Dixons Retail, Sebastian James. ‘We have delayed our recruitment so that Comet colleagues who want to join our stores can get a chance to do so.’
Of course, if Comet’s staff start leaving its shops in droves, the business is going to be an even harder sell for Deloitte. But Dixons would be mad to pass up the chance to get its hands on hundreds of staff, ready trained in the dark arts of flogging tellies and fridges. Apparently over 300 of Comet's staff - some still in uniform - have already made their way into Dixons' stores enquiring after jobs.
Dixons’ James insists that he means Comet no ill will by issuing this invitation: ‘We're not out trying to poach,’ he says. Although he does add, somewhat conversely: ‘We are hoping we will get as many as possible of the Comet colleagues to join us.’ Of course, in the service of equal opportunities, James is at pains to add that all applicants for Dixons roles will be chosen purely on merit.
However the chances of Dixons actually stepping in to buy Comet are slim to none. ‘As we look across the country we are pretty much on all the same parks they are, so it doesn't really make sense for us to do that,’ said James. And with Dixons shares jumping by 12% last week after Comet's collapse, it certainly looks to be a much happier Christmas for Dixons' shareholders than poor old Comet's.
This article was first published on managementtoday.co.uk
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