Bonmarché collapses into administration – your rights explained
Clothing chain Bonmarché has today collapsed into administration for the second time in just over a year. If you're a customer, we've full help below on what it means for gift cards, online orders and returns.
All of Bonmarché's 225 UK stores will remain open while RSM Restructuring Advisory, which has been appointed to handle the administration, looks to agree a rescue deal. No staff redundancies have yet been made, but 1,500 jobs are at risk if the chain can't survive administration.
The news comes just days after Arcadia Group – the parent company of Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Evans and several other high street chains – collapsed into administration. Meanwhile, Debenhams has this week warned it's set to close for good by early next year if a last-minute buyer can't be found to save the struggling department store chain.
If you're a staff member at any of these retailers and you're worried about your job, see our Redundancy Help guide to tool up on your rights. For general information on what you can do to try to reclaim cash from a firm in administration if things were to go wrong, see our Administration Help guide.
I've got a gift card – can I still use it?
RSM says gift cards can still be spent in-store and online as normal, and that they'll continue to be worth 100% of their face value.
If you've already got a gift card though, we'd suggest trying to redeem it as soon as possible, and we'd urge caution against buying any news ones.
We've long said we're not fans of gift cards because you've no guaranteed 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.
What's happening with online orders?
RSM says online orders placed before Bonmarché went into administration will be delivered as normal, while new purchases can continue to be placed.
It's important to bear in mind that when a firm is in administration, things can change quickly and there's more of a risk of things not turning up, so if you do decide to make an online purchase, for extra peace of mind, use a debit card, or a credit card if the item costs over £100.
That will give you some additional protection if things were to go wrong, as you could try to claim your money back from your card provider under chargeback or Section 75 rules. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay for something costing between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card, the card firm's equally liable if something goes wrong, so you may be able to claim your money back from it.
Under chargeback – which isn't a legal requirement, just a customer service promise – your bank will try to get money back from the bank of the firm you bought from. (Be aware that even if you're paid the money, the firm can sometimes dispute it with the bank and the money may later be clawed back.) See our Chargeback and Section 75 guides for full info.
Can I still make returns?
RSM says items can continue to be returned under its usual refunds policy – this includes returning items in-store. Bonmarché stores in England reopened today (Wednesday 2 December) following the end of the English lockdown.
In the past, we've sometimes seen problems with returns and refunds being processed when stores go into administration. So if you do have something you want to return, it's worth trying to do it as soon as possible – this is a good general rule in any case, but particularly applies here given the current uncertainty.