Admittedly, most of Kesa’s losses are down to Comet, which it managed to flog to a private equity group last month (for £2. Usually these sorts of token acquisitions are £1, but we suppose this is inflation at work). But Comet still dragged down its balance sheet for this trading period: sales at the chain slumped by 18.6% in the six-month period, creating a pre-tax loss of €25.7m. Kesa also had exceptional charges of €133.6m to contend with - €109.9m of which was to do with the sale of Comet.
Group chairman David Newlands was, understandably, keen to point out that now Kesa has offloaded Comet, balance sheets should start to recover accordingly. And to be fair, excluding Comet, Kesa’s retail arm made a profit of €16.5m – although that’s still down more than half the €38.8m it made a year earlier. So a recovery will by no means be simple.
At least it found a buyer for Comet, though – that’s more than can be said for Blacks, which has issued an appeal for a ‘white knight’ investor to rescue it by buying up the firm (or one of its brands, at least). The firm said last month that the winter period has been something of a damp squib, and it expected sales over Christmas to be ‘weaker than expected’.
But the situation must be pretty desperate, given that the company, which has £36m of debt, has already persuaded the takeover panel to a) waive rules that would normally force a potential buyer to make an offer within 28 days and b) allow the buyer to remain anonymous. Management are apparently targeting a sale by January – although by the sounds of it, things aren’t looking hopeful.