Debenhams & Arcadia collapse: Your rights

What you need to know about recent purchases, returns and gift cards.

It’s a sad week for the high street with news that brands such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams could be about to disappear.

If all the stores close that’s 25,000 people who will lose their jobs – not to mention the impact it’ll have on suppliers and high streets. If you’re affected and worried about redundancy, check out this episode of my Cash Chats podcast.

The focus of this article is to help shoppers – whether you’ve recently spend cash there or are thinking of making a purchase in the coming days and weeks.

First though, here’s what is happening to both Debenhams and Arcadia.

* Update 2/12/20 – Bonmarche has also gone into administration. The same principles apply as with Debenhams and Arcadia, though I’ll add extra below if needed *

What’s happening with Arcadia group?

Arcadia is the retail empire set up by Phillip Green and contains big high street names such as Topshop. It’s fallen from it’s late 90s heights, and the decline was sped up by store closures during lockdowns this year.

Administrators have been appointed, which basically means external consultants have been brought in to run things and try to find a new buyer for the group. If that can’t happen, they’ll overseas the sale of stock and close things down.

At the moment online sales will continue and most shops will reopen on 3rd December when lockdown restrictions ease in England.

Arcadia brands:

  • Burton
  • Dorothy Perkins
  • Evans
  • Miss Selfridge
  • Outlet
  • Topshop
  • Topman
  • Wallis

What’s happening with Debenhams?

The department store brought in administrators back in April 2020, and had been negotiating a sale with JD Sports in the hope it could survive.

However, Arcadia brands make up a large part of the concessions in Debenhams stores. Without Arcadia, you have a lot of empty space in already struggling shops. So sadly, the sale has collapsed, and the administrators have moved ahead with liquidation.

This means they will begin to sell off all stock and assets before closing all 124 stores for good. It’s been reported closures could take place between late Janaury and late March.

As it stands, shops will also reopen on the 3rd December 2020 and the website will continue to operate.

Here’s my Clever Cash Briefing from my Instagram account

What you need to do

Have you got a gift card?

Spend it today. DO NOT WAIT.

Firms in administration don’t have to accept gift card payments. Essentially they owe you money, along with other creditors. If they choose to refuse payments you’ll enter a long list of other people owed money. Ifyou make a claim to the administrators you might eventually get a portion of that money back.

So it’s best to not let it get to that stage.

As the time of writing both Arcadia and Debenhams are saying they are accepting gift cards, but that could change at any time.

* UPDATE 2/12/20: Arcadia has experienced issues processing gift cards. When that is solved gift cards can only be used for 50% of your purchase. So they’ll retain their value, but say you have a £10 gift card, you’ll need to spend at least £20 to use it all *

And obviously, don’t buy any new gift cards for those brands.

If you’ve bought anything recently

Anything you have purchased from the retailer recently that you don’t want then return it straight away to get your money back or exchange it for something you do want.

Don’t accept anything other than a refund back to your card or in cash. Store credit is risky as you can only spend it while shops remain open.

It’s worth thinking too if you’ve bought any Christmas gifts from either retail chain. Is there a chance the person you give it to would need to change the size? If so you could return it and buy from somewhere else, or perhaps let them know early so they’ve a chance to try it on.

The same goes if you picked up a gift card to give to some one – either spend it now or give it early so they can spend it themselves.

If you’re waiting for an online delivery

Both retailers have said all existing online orders will be fulfilled. Of course, if it’s not yet been dispatched you could see if it’s possible to cancel the order.

If you buy anything new

The websites are all still taking orders and the plan is for shops to reopen this week.

You could argue that any money spent in the stores could help keep them going – but I don’t think it’ll make much difference at this stage especially with Debenhams.

Still, if the thing you want is being sold from these shops at a price you like, it’s not necessarily a reason not to buy. However, you need to think carefully, and be sure that it’s exactly what you want.

Though returns are permitted right now, that could change. And if the shops close for good, you won’t be definitely won’t be able to return your purchases.

In many ways it makes sense to shop in actual stores rather than order online. Not only do you have it in your hands, reducing the chance for online orders to not get sent out, but you get to inspect it properly or try it on before purchase.

However, this isn’t a normal year. When shops do reopen on the high street I’d imagine there could be a lot of people heading to these shops to do the things I’ve listed above.

So if you do decide you’d rather shop online, just be aware of the risks.

Finally, if it’s something expense, a kitchen appliance from Debenhams for example, then pay with a credit card as then the credit card provider is equally liable if there’s something wrong with your purchase. This only works for individual items costing more than £100, not the total spend.

If it’s less than £100 and things go wrong with your orders you could try chargeback via your bank, though that’s not a legal requirement for your bank.


2 thoughts on “Debenhams & Arcadia collapse: Your rights

  1. Justin Maitland-Walker December 3, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    I purchased a laptop insurance with debenhams. What will happen with that ?

    1. I’d imagine that the insurance is actually with via another broker. I’d check your documents and get in touch with them to see what they say.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.