Customers lose as Robins Kitchen goes into administration

THE future of the Robins Kitchen store in Gladstone, along with all other stores in the country, is uncertain, with administrators appointed to scrutinise the assets of the company.

Administrators said their "preliminary view" is that all stores would remain open until Christmas Eve, but they were unable to guarantee the future of any store beyond this.

The move means gift vouchers, lay-by and online purchases will become worthless.

The administrators say they are reviewing the financial status of the whole of business of Robins Kitchens including potentially restructuring and selling the business or, in the alternative, an orderly wind down.

Robins Kitchen turned over about $40 million this year across 55 stores and online, running 36 outlets in Queensland, eight in New South Wales and one in Canberra.

Administrator John Park said all stock would be sold to pay employee entitlements and secured creditors, but stock couldn't not be used to honour lay-by or gift vouchers.

There will be no refunds provided for money paid on lay-by items.

"We acknowledge that the timing of voluntary administration so close to Christmas is going to create additional uncertainty for employees and customers, which is difficult and unfortunate for all. It is our intention to work with all parties in an effort to minimise this impact where possible," Mr Park said.

A telephone hotline has been established at 1800 307 717 for consumers and other stakeholders.

THE ROBINS KITCHEN LIQUIDATION FAQ SHEET

I have a Robins Kitchen gift voucher. Can I still use it?
Unfortunately, it can no longer be used. While this is disappointing for you and for the administrators, gift voucher holders are categorised under most relevant state and federal laws as unsecured creditors. The company will therefore be unable to accept gift vouchers.

I have an item on lay-by. Am I still able to pay it off and get my item?
Lay-bys are similar in status to gift vouchers, and therefore customers with lay-bys are also categorised as unsecured creditors. This means the company will be unable to honour the lay-by or provide you with a refund for money paid to date.

I have had an item on lay-by for some time and I've almost paid it off. What happens now?
Regrettably customers who have lay-bys with differing amounts owing or paid are treated exactly the same under the relevant state and federal laws. As a result, the company will not be able to honour the lay-by or provide you with a refund.

Can't I simply go to my local store and get my item from the shelf?
No. Goods currently held in each store are for sale to retail customers, not for lay-by. The stock in each store will be sold to raise funds to pay employee entitlements and secured creditors. Stock cannot be used to honour lay-by or gift vouchers.

I paid the deposit for my lay-by by credit card? Can I get a refund?
In the first instance you should contact your credit card provider and discuss the matter directly with them, particularly in relation to whether you can claim on purchasers insurance.

What happens to my online order?
The voluntary administrators of Robins Kitchen are currently assessing the ongoing operations of the online ordering facility. Orders that were lodged before the company was placed in voluntary administration and have not yet been dispatched will not be honoured.

I've heard of instances where retailers in this position will honour a percentage of the face value a gift voucher if the customer makes up the rest of the purchase in cash. Is this something you are considering?
No. All holders of gift vouchers and lay-bys will be treated the same and will become unsecured creditors.

What happens if I have a warranty issue with goods bought previously?
You should contact the manufacturer directly.

What is voluntary administration?
Voluntary administration is an insolvency regime where the directors of a financially troubled company or a secured creditor with a charge over most of the company's assets appoint an external administrator called a voluntary administrator.

The role of the voluntary administrator is to investigate the company's affairs, to report to creditors and to recommend to creditors whether the company should enter into a deed of company arrangement, go into liquidation or be returned to the directors.

A voluntary administrator is usually appointed by a company's directors, after they decide that the company is insolvent or likely to become insolvent. Less commonly, a voluntary administrator may be appointed by a liquidator, provisional liquidator, or a secured creditor.

Source: Australian Securities and Investments Commission