Discount shoe retailer Brantano has called in administrators, becoming the first major retailer to do so after a tough Christmas for high street shops. We explain what it means for you.
The firm, which runs 140 stores and 60 concessions across the UK, went into administration last night (Thursday) putting 2,000 jobs at risk. Brantano's stores currently remain open, but beware ordering anything online – it’s safer to buy in store.
PwC, the company handling the administration, says all orders of items from Brantano already placed will be fulfilled, and the retailer is still accepting high street gift vouchers and faulty and non-faulty items can be returned as usual.
Tony Barrell, lead administrator at PwC, says: “The continuing challenging conditions for ‘bricks and mortar’ retail stores are well documented. Like many others, Brantano has been hit hard by the change in consumers’ shopping habits and the evolution of the UK retail environment. The administrators are continuing to trade the businesses as normal whilst we assess the trading strategy over the coming days and weeks."
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For full info on what happens when a firm goes into administration, see our Administration Help guide. Here are some of the key points:
Brantano is still trading but beware ordering online
While you can still buy items from Brantano, it is much safer to do so in store where you can walk away with it. If you order online you risk the goods not arriving if its financial predicament gets worse.
Undelivered orders will still be fulfilled
A PwC spokesperson confirms all outstanding online orders are being delivered as normal.
Its returns policy remains the same for now – though that could change
PwC says there will be no immediate change to Brantano's returns policy, although when asked, a spokesperson wouldn't confirm if that could change in future. So if you've an item you want to return, it may be best to do so right away.
Your statutory rights very clearly state you can return faulty items for a refund – the picture can sometimes get muddy when a firm goes into administration, but in this case PwC says your rights won't be affected.
If you bought something in store, you don't have a legal right to take it back simply because you change your mind (though it's different if you bought online – then you've 14 days to decide to return the item, for any reason, and another 14 days to send it back).
However Brantano's returns policy goes above and beyond the legal minimum, like many stores' policies. Brantano says you can return most items if you're not happy with them for a refund or an exchange within 14 days, providing they're returned in their original condition and with proof of purchase. PwC says that policy won't change.
For full info on returns rights see our Consumer Rights guide.
Brantano's still accepting gift cards for now
Brantano doesn't issue its own gift cards. But a PwC spokesperson confirmed it will continue to accept high street gift vouchers, eg, Love2Shop vouchers, as normal.
Left out of pocket? Claim from your card firm
If faulty items are not replaced, or deliveries never come, then if you paid with a credit card for something costing more than £100, you should be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This makes card firms jointly liable with the retailer if something goes wrong, such as a store going bust.
If you paid by credit card for goods under £100, or on a debit card, you may be able to claim via Visa or Mastercard's chargeback schemes. However, these are customer service promises, not legal rights. See our Section 75 Refunds guide for full info.
What's happening to Brantano's staff?
Brantano employs around 2,000 staff across the UK currently, including about 200 at its head office in Coalville, Leicestershire. PwC says staff will be paid what they're owed for wages and salaries, and will continue to be paid during the administration.
What's the outlook for Brantano now?
Robert Moran, a deals partner at PwC who is leading the sales process, says the firm is now looking for a new buyer.
"We are now assessing interest in the UK Brantano business as a whole or its parts and we welcome approaches from interested parties," he says.
This story was updated on 26 January to include new information from PwC on gift cards and returns policies.