A Hampshire firm hopes to be taking over a disused electrical store in Southampton and bring 60 jobs into the city.
Businessman Clive Coombes started up discount electrical firm Lewisons, based in Totton, in the last year and negotiations are currently under way to move into the former Comet store in Millbrook and turn it into a superstore by the spring.
The 44-year-old also intends to take over a shop on Above Bar Street in Southampton as a small service centre linked to the larger store in Millbrook.
By the end of the year he aims to open 80 stores across the south.
Clive’s venture came after his Totton firm tried to take over the Comet brand.
“We wanted to take over the Comet brand. We were unsuccessful in taking that over,” he said.
“We couldn’t trade under our first name which was Meridian Comet because of trademark issues so we renamed it Lewisons.
“We went to Europe and we had a look at the stores there. A lot of the stores in Europe are larger but their products are low price.”
Within a couple of months, he predicts “there will be at least three service centres and one distribution depot” in the region. The warehouse and head office in Totton currently serve a store in Bournemouth which has recently opened but it will also serve the store in Millbrook when that opens.
Mr Coombes, who previously worked in insolvency and specialised in company turnarounds, says he believed Comet was a viable business which made good profit in its last months.
His new venture has been backed by individual private investors, he said. “The backers all think it will take off,” he added.
“We’ll have cheap shop fittings, low overheads and sell cheap. That’s the motto. I want to get it out there as cheap as we can go to the customer.”
Prices will be set very close to the figures customers will see at the major online companies.
Customers will be able to choose from a wide range of stock which can be delivered to the smaller stores the same day or the next. Like the shop in Bournemouth, the new store in Millbrook will sell home entertainment products, kitchen and home domestic appliances but will also provide refreshments and a comfortable viewing area with seating.