Feb 7, 2020
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End of the road for over half of Beales stores as no buyer is found yet

Feb 7, 2020

It's been a bad year for Beales so far and it got worse on Friday with news that the mid-market regional department store chain is to close 12 of its shops – more than half of its total – as its administrators continue to seek a buyer for the remaining 11.

Beales will run closing down sales at 12 stores, including its flagship

KPMG has failed to find a buyer for the full 23-strong chain, it said, adding that the stores slated for closure will continue to trade for a few weeks as they run closing down sales, with staff continuing to be employed for now.

Perhaps surprising is the fact that the company’s flagship store in Bournemouth, where it was founded as far back as 1881, is among those that will be shut. 

Other towns set to lose their Beales branch include Hexham, Worthing, Tonbridge, Peterborough, Mansfield, Keighley, Perth, Spalding, Wisbech, Bedford and Yeovil.

The company, which was the subject of a management buyout in 2018, has been hit hard by the general downturn in the department stores sector and particularly by the heavy weight of business rates that saw it paying over £1 million more than it should have done in recent years because of the distorting effect of the system known as transitional relief.

It had been talking to landlords to try to get significant rent reductions but it seems time has run out. However, KPMG added that “there is currently no intention to implement closure plans for the remaining 11 stores, which will all continue to operate as usual until an outcome with regards to a sale of the business is clarified”. While that’s reassuring up to a point, it falls well short of a strong commitment to keeping the stores open.

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