Beales goes into administration putting 1,000 jobs and 23 stores at risk

A DEPARTMENT store chain has gone into administration after failing to find a last-minute buyer.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 12:54 pm
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 4:04 pm
Opening of Beales in Fareham Shopping Centre, the Mayor, Councillor Mrs Pamela Bryant cutting the ribbon with Nigel Beale, Tony Brown on the right. In the background is Councillor Mrs Louise Clubley, Store director Matt Roberts, Deputy Store Director David Moyse and Centre Manager Mike Taylor.

Beales, which began trading in Bournemouth in 1881, only opened a store at Fareham Shopping Centre in November 2019.

However it has now been confirmed that the 139-year-old business has collapsed into administration.

About 1,050 jobs at the 23 stores are now at risk, as administrators from KPMG step in to see if the business can be saved.

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Beales has gone into administration. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The company's website has been taken down, although the stores will continue trading while administrators look for a buyer.

The Bournemouth-based retailer is the latest high street name to suffer from soaring business rates and the public deserting shopping centres in record numbers.

Will Wright, joint administrator at KPMG, said: ‘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.’

Last month Beales hired advisers at KPMG to lead a strategic review in order to find a profitable future for the business.

The company was previously in talks with landlords over rent reductions, through a Company Voluntary Arrangement, and reports suggested two potential buyers had been lined up.

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Speaking to the BBC last week, chief executive Tony Brown said: ‘We've only managed to get one council to help us out on a temporary basis.

‘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.’

The retailer was taken into private ownership by Mr Brown in 2018, 23 years after the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange.

The collapse comes as department stores in particular have suffered hardest from the high street downturn.

House of Fraser fell into administration in 2018, before it was snapped up by Mike Ashley's Frasers Group - formerly Sports Direct.

Debenhams also fell into administration and was rescued by its lenders, leading to 19 stores closing this month including the one in Southsea which shut yesterday.

John Lewis suffered a tough Christmas too, with the company warning that a bonus for the employee-owned business could be scrapped this year.

Mothercare also shut its doors for the final time a week ago, closing all 79 remaining stores after the firm's UK division went bust.