Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Burton shopper or gift card holder? Here's what you need to know
The parent company of Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton is reported to be struggling, if you shop with it here's how to play it safe with gift cards and online orders.
Update 5pm Wednesday 12 June: Arcadia's creditors have now approved its CVA. However the guidance below on spending gift cards as soon as possible and protecting yourself when ordering online still applies to any retailer.
The Arcadia Group is currently involved in restructuring talks, with its creditors expected to vote on a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) – a type of insolvency agreement – tomorrow.
If 75% of these creditors vote in favour of the CVA, the group will implement a turnaround strategy with extra funding. If this happens, Arcadia says gift cards and returns will continue being accepted as usual, and shoppers shouldn't see any impact.
But if the CVA fails, the group's future will be reassessed – and one potential outcome could be for it to go into administration. If this happens, policies around gift cards and returns will become much more uncertain.
Of course, we don't have a crystal ball when it comes to the future, but the tips below will help you protect yourself if you have a gift card, are ordering online or making returns for any store, if the worst were to happen.
Martin: 'Personally, I’d be spending my gift cards soon for safety'
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "The problem with insolvency is that once a company is insolvent it has to announce it straight away. So it happens very quickly.
"Clearly, as it's seeking a form of corporate rescue, the Arcadia Group is not in the most stable state at the moment. So personally, until we get firm news that all is going to be fine, if I had a gift card for Topshop, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins or the rest, I'd use it ASAP, as in some of the possible eventualities they may become worthless, and clearly I'd avoid buying any gift vouchers from there in the future (although that doesn't mean much, as I would always suggest avoiding gift cards and vouchers anywhere anyway).
"I'd also be very careful if I was ordering something now for delivery a decent amount of time in the future, and buying any items that might break because returns can be difficult too if a firm goes into administration."
What are the rules around gift cards?
Arcadia Group's brands – which are Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topman, Topshop and Wallis – offer gift cards.
We've long said we're not fans of gift cards because you've got no protection if the company it's for goes into administration. Administrators can decide to stop accepting gift cards in this situation, meaning they could become worthless.
In this case, your gift card will be counted as part of the debts owed by a company, so you'll be one of the firm's creditors – and as unsecured creditors are at the back of the queue when it comes to payouts, it's very unlikely you'd get your cash back in full.
This lack of protection means if you have a gift card for any store, you should always spend it as soon as possible.
See our Administration Help guide for full info on reclaiming cash from companies when things go wrong.
How can I protect myself when making online orders?
If you make a purchase from an Arcadia Group store, or indeed any store, you may want to use a debit card, or a credit card if the item costs over £100, to give you extra peace of mind.
This will give you some extra protection if things were to go wrong as you'll be able to make a claim through Section 75 for credit card purchases for items costing more than £100, because your credit card provider is equally liable.
For debit card purchases, or those costing less than £100 on a credit card, you can try the chargeback scheme – though in this situation, a refund's not guaranteed as chargeback is a customer service promise rather than a legal obligation.
What about returning orders?
In the past, we've seen issues with returns and refunds being processed when stores go into administration.
And while Arcadia Group stores are trading as normal at the moment, it's always worth returning items as soon as possible.
What does Arcadia say?
A spokesperson said: "Arcadia Group is pleased to confirm that the Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) have approved the amendments to the Arcadia Group Limited CVA made with the landlords last Friday.
"Following this, the PPF has now signed a new proxy supporting the CVA vote tomorrow.
"The Arcadia board would like to thank TPR, the PPF and the trustees for their help and support in this important vote."
A spokesperson for the Pensions Regulator said: "We recognise that the best support for most pension schemes is a trading employer and we feel the CVA proposals provide the right balance between security for the pension schemes and the chance of sustainability for the company."