Beales collapses into administration

Beales department store has fallen into administration and has appointed KPMG as administrator after failing to secure a sale of the business. Beales is one of Britain’s oldest department stores and the collapse puts more than 1,000 jobs at risk.

The retailer, which began trading in 1881 in Bournemouth, has 22 shops around the UK. No immediate closures have been announced and Beales will continue to trade through its stores, although its website has been taken offline.

The news comes less than two years after the chief executive of the business, Tony Brown, led a management buyout in 2018. Just last week Brown told the BBC that “councils really don’t care” about the challenges faced by retailers, saying: “We’ve only managed to get one council to help us out on a temporary basis. They get their business rates, whether we’re there or not, because the landlord pays if the store closes”.

Beales had been trying to negotiate rent reductions with landlords in an attempt to save the business, after reporting a loss of £3.1mn in the year to March 2019, up from £1.3mn in the previous trading period.

Beales has stores in the following towns and cities: Beccles, Bedford, Bournemouth, Chipping Norton, Diss, Fareham, Hexham, Keighley, Kendal, Lowestoft, Mansfield, Perth, Peterborough, Poole, Skegness, Southport, Spalding, St Neots, Tonbridge, Wisbech, Worthing and Yeovil.

The collapse of Beales is set against a backdrop of tough times for Britain’s major retailers, with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reporting that retail sales fell for the first time since 1995, with an overall decline of 0.1%. Sales in November and December were particularly weak, while a report from Barclaycard found that rising consumer confidence had failed to boost festive spending.