Department store Beales in crisis talks to stave off collapse


Struggling department store chain Beales is in crisis talks with potential buyers in an effort to stave of a collapse that could cost hundreds of jobs.

The talks come after the Bournemouth-based firm yesterday filed notice of its intention to appoint administrators to step in as a last resort if the firm cannot cannot be sold.

Beales, launched in 1881, is speaking to a rival retailer as well as a venture capital company. A deal could be struck by the end of this week, Beales chief executive Tony Brown told the Financial Times.

Last month Beales, which has 22 department stores across the UK, appointed KPMG to launch a strategic review and assess a potential sale of the business following one of the worst years for British retailers on record.

Brown this morning accused local councils of failing to help struggling retailers. The chief executive said local authorities “really don’t care” about high street stores as landlords will continue to pay business rates in the event of the retailer’s failure.

“We’ve only managed to get one council to help us out on a temporary basis,” Brown told the BBC.

“Landlords – not all of them but predominantly most of them – have been helpful and they see a long term. 

“Now don’t get me wrong, the high streets do need to develop but there has to be a timescale on which that’s done by.

“At the moment, in my view councils really don’t care, because they get their business rates, whether we’re there or not because the landlord pays if the store closes”.

Retailers have repeatedly called on the government to reform the business rates system, as high street stores facing rising costs and a drop in consumer footfall. 

In December the chain said it is seeking investment to implement further cost saving strategies as it “continues to acclimatise to the ever-changing landscape and challenges of the retail market”.

The group is also seeking to develop its focus on housewares, small domestic appliances, fashion accessories and shoes, which are all showing “significant sales improvements”.