HomeFashionFury of women stuck with designer clothes they can't return after glamorous...

Fury of women stuck with designer clothes they can’t return after glamorous luxury clothing retailer Matches Fashion folds

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  • Company was put into administration by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group

Matches Fashion, which sells high-end brands including Gucci and Prada, has been put into administration by its former owner Frasers Group, which is controlled by multi-billionaire Mike Ashley.

The move – less than three months after Frasers bought the company for £52 million – has left shoppers in the lurch.

But this weekend Mr Ashley’s Frasers Group refused to help Matches customers.

Some shoppers who have splashed out on designer wares, many of which fetch four-figure sums, are thousands of pounds out of pocket. They are unable to return expensive garments or get their money back.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal confused customers have been told they cannot return any orders made before March 8, when administrators Teneo took control.

Shoppers who bought wares from Matches Fashion are furious after being unable to return their expensive luxury clothes

But items bought after this date can be returned. Shoppers have 14 days from receiving an order to request a ‘return number’ then a further seven days to send the item back.

Matches, with its flagship location offering two floors of private retail suites in a five-storey Mayfair townhouse, had been beloved by wealthy shoppers looking for an exclusive service, and it shipped to 176 countries.

Susan Marmot, who placed a UK order on March 6, posted in an online review: ‘You have literally stolen from me. You allowed me to place an order two days before you refuse returns without informing me that you would not allow me to return the goods.

‘Now I… am stuck with non-fitting clothes I would never have ordered had you said at the time.’

Consumer expert Scott Dixon said: ‘Mike Ashley, who is a billionaire, has left many customers high and dry through no fault of their own. Although he may not have a legal obligation to honour refunds, he has a moral obligation to do so.’

Teneo argues it is not responsible for returns or refunds on purchases made before it took over as administrator. Frasers, which declined to comment, is also refusing to take responsibility.

Matches was founded by husband-and-wife Tom and Ruth Chapman in Wimbledon, south-west London, more than 30 years ago before moving online.

The couple sold a majority stake to private equity group Apax Partners in 2017, which then sold it on to Frasers Group for £52million in December 2023. Frasers, which owns Sports Direct, said Matches had ‘consistently missed its business targets’ and made losses.

Almost 300 of Matches’ 533 staff were made redundant on March 8 when administrators took over, but the company is still trading.

Mr Ashley, 59, is known as a ruthless operator with a brash management style. He has been locked in several court battles, the latest of which is a wrangle with financier Amanda Staveley over the sale of Newcastle United Football Club, which he previously owned.

Mr Dixon, who runs The Complaints Resolver website, said shoppers may be able to claim from their credit card companies, which are obliged to refund purchases between £100 and £30,000 if they are faulty or do not arrive.

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group has put Matches into administration but refused to help customers. Mr Ashley is known as a ruthless operator with a brash management style

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has put Matches into administration but refused to help customers. Mr Ashley is known as a ruthless operator with a brash management style

However, he said this could prove ‘a struggle’.

‘They should not have to resort to trying to get refunds from banks and having to fight for what is rightfully theirs,’ he added.

A US customer said she ‘received defective items and was told I couldn’t return nor be refunded’.

One London-based Matches employee said she was ‘made redundant with zero warning on Friday morning via Zoom’ despite having worked there for two years. She added: ‘It can only be described as perhaps the most soulless and callous handling of people’s lives and livelihoods I’ve ever witnessed. We’re all in shock and certainly won’t be staying quiet.’

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