Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 13th January 2020
The business behind Beales Department Stores could be heading for administration unless a last-minute rescue solution can be found in the coming days.
Beales has 22 outlets across the UK and was founded as long ago as the late 1800s, with its flagship store located in Bournemouth, Dorset.
However, there are real concerns now that the business will not be able to survive unless a new buyer can be found for it soon.
Bosses at Beales have been in discussions with landlords about potential rent reductions and with would-be buyers of the retail business.
Beales became a publicly listed company after it joined the London Stock Exchange in 1995 but was taken back into private ownership in October 2018.
The company is now being advised by KPMG as it seeks a path forward that allows it to avoid administration and potentially look towards a more financially viable future.
Nonetheless, with no rescue deal yet having been done the future remains very much uncertain for the more than 1,000 people employed directly by Beales at its stores in various parts of the country.
Speaking to the Southern Daily Echo recently, Beales’ chief executive and owner Tony Brown suggested that he remains optimistic about what might be possible for his business going forward.
“We are confident that we have a solution for the business that will create a stronger if leaner Beales,” he’s quoted as saying, in reference to the idea that some of the company’s stores may need to be closed down in the interests of the wider operation.
“I can’t predict which stores will stay and which stores won’t because it all depends on landlords and local government,” Mr Brown told the local newspaper.
Mr Brown also said that Beales, like all high street operators in the UK, has been faced with “difficult trading” conditions of late, and he took aim at the current business rates regime as a particular problem for retailers, describing the existing rates system as “lunacy”.
The British Retail Consortium recently reported data indicating that sales within the UK’s retail sector declined across a full year for the first time on record over the course of 2019.