Woolworths to honour Masters gift cards for customers
Customers with Masters gift cards won’t face the same fate as Dick Smith’s, after Woolworths announced today they will honour those left with vouchers from the fallen chain.
On Monday Woolworths went public with news of its exit from all 63 Masters Home Improvement stores around Australia. It’s a disappointing outcome for many including those in the Western Sydney suburb of Penrith where a Masters store only opened four days ago.
"Of course it is very disappointing," the Mayor of Penrith Karen McKeown told the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.
Masters will begin to close its doors in a process that will take several months, in which customers can spend their gift cards in-store. Alternatively, “any gift cards can already be used at Woolworths group stores,” wrote Woolworths on the Masters website.
The supermarket giants’ move to keep gift cards valid may have been prompted by the recent backlash against electronics retailer Dick Smith. Most remaining Dick Smith gift card holders are out of pocket to the frustration of South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon who wants reform.
“The Dick Smith Holdings collapse highlights the lack of protection for consumers when it comes to gift cards and deposits paid,” Xenophon recently announced.
“These proposed reforms which will be contained in legislation I will be introducing into the Senate next month, will finally give consumers the protection they deserve.”
Such reforms Xenophon is proposing includes external administrators being obliged to prioritise customers over creditors when a company goes under.
The Australian home improvement retail sector is now left with Bunnings, the popular chain Masters was modelled on, stores such as Mitre 10 and smaller independent businesses.
Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research said their retail research shows Masters had a tough competitor to topple due to strong brand loyalty among its customers.
“Even though the average customer spend per four weeks was slightly higher for Masters ($166) than it was for Bunnings ($154), the sheer enormity of Bunnings’ customer-base ensured that Masters never came close to challenging its rival’s market supremacy,” Levine said.
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