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Beales goes into administration with 22 stores and 1,300 jobs at risk | Business


The department store chain Beales has gone into administration, threatening 1,300 jobs in the latest blow to the UK high street.

Accountancy firm KPMG was appointed on Monday as administrator to the 23-shop chain, having initially been engaged by the retailer last month to explore possible sale and refinancing opportunities.

KPMG said: “Despite interest from a number of parties, this process did not secure any solvent solutions for the company, and as a result, the directors took the difficult decision to place the companies into administration.”

All 23 stores will continue to trade as a going concern – with all staff retained – while KPMG assesses its options for the business. However, the store’s website was offline on Monday.

Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “For over 100 years, Beales has been a stalwart of the high street in market towns up and down the UK, but like countless similar retailers, has found trading in recent times to be incredibly tough. With the impact of high rents and rates exacerbated by disappointing trading over the Christmas period, and extensive discussions around additional investment proving unsuccessful, there were no other available options but to place the company into administration.”

Beales’ slump into administration comes after it was revealed 2019 was the worst on record for British retail, with sales falling for the first time in 24 years as a dire performance on the high street dragged down the industry.

Total sales slipped by 0.1% in 2019, according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, the weakest since they began monitoring the sector in 1995.

Beales had not been immune from that overall trend. It reported increased losses of £3.1m last year and failed to secure either rent reductions to cut its costs, or find a buyer to rescue the business, which was founded in Bournemouth in 1881.

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at real estate adviser Altus Group, said: “Expensive rents, which in turn drive high business rate liabilities, large staffing needs, and leases that are difficult to give up have hampered department store operators’ struggles to adapt to the challenging retail climate.

“There are now a third fewer large department stores than there were a decade ago [and], once empty, landlords face the challenge of repurposing these outdated spaces, while some have been converted into smaller shop units many have been demolished or sit vacant.”

KPMG said while it operates the business as a going concern, Beales gift vouchers, customer deposits, plus returns and refunds will continue to be honoured.

Beales stores

  • Beccles

  • Bedford

  • Bournemouth

  • Chipping Norton

  • Diss

  • Fareham

  • Great Yarmouth

  • Hexham

  • Keighley

  • Kendal

  • Lowestoft

  • Mansfield

  • Perth

  • Peterborough

  • Poole

  • Skegness

  • Southport

  • Spalding

  • St Neots

  • Tonbridge

  • Wisbech

  • Worthing

  • Yeovil



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