Losses trigger review at Comet

Kingfisher has called in management consultancy McKinsey to review strategy at the Comet electrical chain, according to one source close to the company.

It is believed the buying and marketing functions will face particularly close scrutiny.

Kingfisher published a trading statement last week which showed sales at Comet had plummeted 10.6 per cent in the 23 weeks to January 7. The statement said the chain was on course for a trading loss, its first since acquisition by Kingfisher.

The source says Comet has failed to make sufficient in-roads into important growth mark-ets such as home computers and mobile phones, and as a res-ult has lost market share to rival Dixons in these important areas. Kingfisher refused tocomment.

McKinsey is likely to look at the buying and marketing functions at Comet, which have been slow to capitalise on these growth markets, according to the insider.

The chain has been without a marketing director since September, when Alan McWalter left to become marketing director at Woolworth’s (MW September 16, 1994). Commercial director Peter Hopper has been responsible for marketing in the interim.

Comet initially denied that management consultants had been brought into the chain. But Kingfisher spokesman Nigel Whittaker says McKinsey has been working at Comet for eight years.

Kingfisher chairman Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy has hotly denied rumours that the company is to sell off Comet.

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