Comet staff leave Hull call centre as consultation ends
HUNDREDS of workers have now been made redundant from a Hull call centre.
About 240 staff from Comet's call centre in George Street left the company this week after the consultation into their future closed.
An additional 40 workers have been transferred to the company's Business Centre, also in George Street, which employs about 160 staff.
The company launched a 90-day consultation with staff in February, as previously revealed in the Mail.
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This was prompted by Comet's decision to close either its Hull call centre or one based in Clevedon, near Bristol.
Having been founded in Hull almost 80 years ago, many hoped the company's historical ties with the city would help save its Hull workforce.
However, in March – almost two months before the end of the consultation period – Comet confirmed it would close its Hull call centre and transfer the work to Clevedon.
A spokesman for the company said: "The people who were served notice have this week, unfortunately, moved on.
"Comet has been doing a lot of work with affected staff and launched a recruitment programme to help them into new jobs and careers.
"The company will be remaining in Hull as its Business Centre is still based in George Street and 40 workers have now transferred there from the call centre."
Councillor Steven Bayes, portfolio holder for economic regeneration and employment, said the city council remained in close dialogue with Comet about supporting the redundancy process and maximising the retention of employment in the city.
He said: "A number of local employers have stepped forward expressing keen interest in recruiting staff facing redundancy from Comet.
"We understand a high proportion of staff have already found alternative employment.
"There are a number of other large contact centres in the city, so there are good opportunities for those that wish to stay within that industry. "The feedback we have received from local businesses has been extremely positive in terms of the skills and experience of the Comet workforce.
"This is extremely positive and we remain optimistic that most of the Comet staff will move into other employment very quickly."
Comet was founded in Hull in 1933 by George Hollingbery, who rented out radios and batteries.
In the 1950s, he set up his first shop in George Street.
His son, Michael Hollingbery, later launched the UK's first out-of-town superstore, which prompted the company's strong growth across the UK.
Today, Comet operates more than 200 stores and employs hundreds of staff throughout the UK.
However, tumbling sales, combined with rising pension costs saw the company report a loss of £22.3 million in the six months to October 31 last year.
In November, its then-owners Kesa Electricals called time on the loss- making business and sold it to retail turnaround firm OpCapita for £2.
As part of the deal, Kesa pumped £50 million into the struggling electricals chain and took on the firm's pension scheme.