Volumes on a shelf

Papers of Comet Group PLC

Background to Comet Group PLC

Founded in 1933 in Hull by George Hollingbery, the company had its first years of existence under the name Comet Battery Stores providing a battery recharging service to wireless radio customers.

The company had a small fleet of vans to deliver the recharged batteries to its customers and operated out of Dock Street, Hull. The business prospered and began to provide customers with radio rentals under the name of Comet Radio Services. In the 1950s the first store was opened in George Street, Hull, followed by two more in Driffield and Bridlington.

Comet was a pioneer in the arena of out-of-town retail stores and in 1968 the first such store was opened in Hull on Clough Road. It sold televisions and radios and was so successful that a further store was opened in Leeds in 1969. It was in this year that the Company was renamed Comet Radiovision Services.

In 1982 a resolution was passed changing the company's name once again, this time to Comet Group PLC under which name it continued to trade until it filed for administration in November 2012.

During the 1970s and 1980s the company had competition from a number of growing companies also providing electrical goods. One such company was Lasky's which Comet bought out in 1989. In 1972 Comet became a publicly traded company and shares began to be sold in the business. In 1984 Woolworths owned by Paternoster Stores (later Kingfisher) bought Comet from the Hollingbery family although the head of the family Michael Hollingbery remained in place as chairman.

In 1996 Kingfisher bought the electrical retailer Norweb and merged it with Comet. However Comet was performing poorly and in 2003 part of the Kingfisher company including the Comet Group was demerged and renamed KESA Electricals.Comet continued to make a loss and in November 2011 KESA sold the company to investment firm OpCapita. Comet lasted a further year before announcing it was filing for administration in November 2012, with Deloitte appointed as administrators. All Comet stores had closed by December 2012.

What is in the collection and how is it arranged?

The collection [C DBCO] contains the surviving papers of Comet Group PLC, deposited when the Hull office on George Street closed following the dissolution of the company in 2012. The following records have survived:

  • Comet Group PLC Minute Books, 1972-2003 [C DBCO/1]
  • Comet Group PLC Subsidiary Company Minute Books, 1973-2003 [C DBCO/2]
  • Comet Group PLC Estates Department Files, 1970s-2000s [C DBCO/3]
  • Comet Group PLC Legal Department Files, 1933-2004 [C DBCO/4]
  • Comet Group PLC Finance Records, 1972-2004 [C DBCO/5]
  • Comet Group PLC Human Resources Records, c.1970s-1990s [C DBCO/6]
  • Comet Group PLC Miscellaneous Records and Artefacts, 1974-2009 [C DBCO/7]

What records have not survived?

Unfortunately many of the records of the company’s early history have not survived. The period 1933-1960s is represented by a single General Register [C DBCO/4/17] documenting the beginning of the company in 1933 under the name of Comet Battery Service Limited.

No minute books or other administrative records exist prior to 1972.

How can the collection be used?

The papers of Comet Group PLC can aid research into the following areas:

  • History of Comet Group PLC
  • Hull businesses in the 20th and early 21st centuries
  • Electrical companies of the 20th and early 21st centuries
  • Economic history of the 1970s-1990s

What are the highlights of the collection?

Amongst the minute books and the legal files there are a number of stand-out records including the following:

  • General Register, 1933-1997 [C DBCO/4/17]
  • Store photograph files, 1970s-2000s [C DBCO/3/1-37]
  • Register of New Openings, Relocations, Refits and Closures, shows acquisition of Lasky’s stores in 1989, 1986-2012 [C DBCO/3/40]
  • Certificates of Incorporation and Share Certificates, shows changes of name of company and incorporation of companies bought out by Comet, 1977-2003 [C DBCO/4/2]