In just one day, two major UK retailers have collapsed into administration with the expected loss of thousands of jobs throughout the country.
The potential loss of Maplin and Toys R Us leave a number of Swindonians looking for a new place of work, if a new owners are not found.
The two stores may be the first high profile retail casualties of 2018 but they are undoubtedly not going to be the last with high street chains struggling to adapt to falling consumer spending, rising inflation and the success of online rivals.
Maplin are continuing to trade without reducing goods whilst a new owner is sought whilst Toys R Us slash prices in all of its stores.
Although Toys R Us is still insisting that it is looking for a buyer, insolvency specialists at Shakespeare Martineau, said: ‘Toys R Us ultimately failed to adapt to the change in British shopping habits and did not properly invest in its business in order to compete with Amazon and the major supermarkets.
‘This is not the first high profile retail insolvency of the year and we expect more, particularly in vulnerable sectors such as retail, construction and the restaurant trade.
The Swindon branch of Toys R Us, along with all remaining UK stores will remain open until further notice and products will be subject to clearance and special promotions. Customers are also being asked to redeem gift cards and vouchers, while they attempt to secure a buyer.
The toy store will not be able to refund any returns but can provide exchanges with a receipt.
What customers need to know…
Will Toys R Us be accepting returns?
Toys R Us stores will remain open during the administration process, but the retailer cannot refund any returns.
However, it can provide an exchange as long as customers have a “valid proof of purchase” – such as a receipt – and the product is not opened and in a resalable condition.
Will customers receive online orders made before the administration?
All click & collect orders made will be honoured as long as stock is available. Customers have been advised to pick up their goods as soon as possible.
Can customers continue to buy products online?
Online trading at Toys R Us stopped at 10am on Wednesday, meaning no new online or click & collect orders can be made. However, the retailer will be making discounts to products in store which customers can buy.
What should customers do if they have a Take Time to Pay agreement with Toys R Us?
If they have settled their agreement but not picked up their products, then shoppers should visit a store as soon as possible.
Customers who have not settled their agreement and picked up their products need to visit their nearest store by Sunday March 11 to pay the balance or to buy goods in store that “exceed the value of the deposit”.
No cash refunds will be made for deposits paid before the administration.
What will happen to customer loyalty cards and vouchers?
Administrators Moorfields said no new loyalty cards will be issued and discount coupons cannot be exchanged for loyalty points because of the “substantial discounting” in stores.
All gift cards will be honoured during the administration process and shoppers should use them as soon as possible.
The balance on gift cards cannot be refunded.
How will customers know when their local store is closing?
Moorfields said: “It is too early to say. The administrators will manage the store trading strategy while also evaluating the options for the company’s future and determining how to obtain the best possible outcome.
“It remains to be decided if some or all the stores will be closed.”
Can customers protect themselves when buying products in Toy R Us stores which are still open?
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “If you are planning to shop in Toys R Us and intend to buy something worth more than £100, make sure you use a credit card as you’ll be able to make a claim against your credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if anything goes wrong.”