BrightHouse will shut 30 shops around the UK as regulators take a tough line on abuses in the rent-to-own sector.
The Financial Conduct Authority has ruled that, from April, the maximum interest paid on a rented appliance will be no more than the cost of the product itself – and the price will have to be the median of three mainstream retailers.
The new rules are the result of the FCA finding that rent-to-own customers, who paid for their essential appliances, like washing machines and cookers, in monthly instalments, were frequently paying much more than they would at other retailers – in some cases, four times more.
It has been widely reported that the store closures at BrightHouse could lead to 350 job cuts, but the company said it was “working to redeploy as many people as possible into alternative roles”.
A BrightHouse spokesman said: “We have taken the very difficult decision to close 30 stores in the next two months.
“All employees affected by our proposals have been informed. We are working to redeploy as many people as possible into alternative roles, but redundancies will be inevitable.
“We will be speaking to all customers affected by the store closures and either transferring them to another local store or serving them online.
“We’re also introducing PayPoint, allowing customers to pay BrightHouse in cash at 28,000 locations across the UK.”
When the FCA released its report last year attacking the sector for overcharging those that could afford it least, BrightHouse said: “This comprehensive process has led to many changes in the way we operate as a business and serve our customers.”