Comet's remaining stores are trading for the final time today around the country, including at its North Shields branch.
It has since emerged that events surrounding the chain's collapse are to be examined by the company investigations branch of the Insolvency Service which will look at the run-up to the administration announcement and Comet's takeover by a private equity-backed investment vehicle in February.
Deloitte, appointed to run the electricals retailer in November, will close the final 49 stores, having failed to find a buyer for any of the 235-strong estate. The collapse has led to the loss of nearly 7000 jobs nationwide.
With insufficient funds raised from the winding down of the chain, it emerged that the Government will have to pick up the tab for £23.2 million of outstanding redundancy pay, accrued holiday pay and pay in lieu of notice.
A further £26.2 million will be lost in unpaid tax to HM Revenue & Customs.
Deloitte's report states the chain racked up losses of £95 million in the year to April, having seen revenues slump by £200 million on a year earlier, followed by a £31 million loss in the next five months as credit insurers lost confidence and withdrew support for the business.
Comet was hit by weak high street trading conditions, competition from online rivals and being unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers.
In particular, it was knocked by the lack of first-time homebuyers who were key customers for Comet.
Nearly two tonnes of drugs seized at North East port
Border Force officers based at North Shields ferry terminal have seized 1.6 tonnes of cannabis that was bound for the UK.
The drugs were concealed inside a lorry load of lip balm and plastic bottles which arrived on the ferry coming over from Amsterdam.
The drugs were seized on Wednesday 14th November at around ten o'clock in the morning.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) will now be investigating the matter.
“We are determined to make life as difficult as possible for those involved in drug smuggling.
We have strong controls in place at all our ports. Our officers use the latest technology, sniffer dogs and their own considerable expertise and experience to protect the UK from banned substances.
We will continue to work with partner agencies, both in this country and abroad in the fight against illegal drug smuggling. We would also encourage anyone with information about suspected smuggling to get in touch.”
– Sam Bullimore, Border Force
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling can call the smuggling hotline on 0800 59 5000.
Police appeal after armed robbery at Tyneside hotel
Police are appealing for witnesses to a robbery at a North Tyneside hotel.
The Village Hotel in North Shields reported a robbery at around 2.30am this morning.
A man armed with a knife entered the hotel and threatened staff, and left with a large amount of money and a red car belonging to a staff member.
Nobody was injured during the incident and the car was later found.
The man was wearing a hooded top with white t-shirt underneath and brown jogging bottoms. He had his hood up and his face covered.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
"The man threatened staff with a knife and made off with cash from the hotel. Staff were obviously left shocked and distressed but no-one was injured during the robbery.
"We're carrying out a number of enquiries into the robbery and would urge any witnesses, anyone who saw the man leave the red car in nearby Merton Lane or anyone with information about who is responsible to contact us as soon as possible."
– Detective Inspector John Gardner, Northumbria Police
Community hero retires, 21 years after Tyneside riots
by Derek Proud
It is 21 years this month since rioting broke out in parts of Tyneside. One estate in particular came to symbolise the social unrest: the Meadow Well in North Shields. Since then, Carole Bell has been working to help the people who live there and restore its reputation. Now she is retiring.
While filming the movie Spy Game in Hungary, with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, Tony Scott would seek out a North East sound recordist who was working on the movie to catch up on news from the place he still called home.
North East film director Tony Scott has died after apparently jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles. The 68-year-old, originally from North Shields, was best known for Hollywood blockbusters Top Gun and Beverley Hills Cop II. American officials say they're treating his death as a suicide.