Sunday 12 January 2020 4:43 pm

Beales on the brink of collapse in difficult weekend for high street

Department store chain Beales was on the brink of collapse today in what has been a torrid period for the high street.

The Bournemouth-based company is set to go into administration if it is unable to complete a sale, according to reports.

In December, Beales appointed KPMG to launch a strategic review including assessing a potential sale.

The department store, which was founded in 1881, is fighting to avoid becoming the next Mothercare, which closed all 79 of its stores over the weekend.

Read more: Department store chain Beales hoists for sale sign

Mothercare called in the administrators in November following several years of losses.

Debenhams also began shutting 19 of its worst-performing sites over the weekend in a bid to reduce the company’s debt.

Beales has had to navigate a difficult climate since its shares were delisted in 2015, and in 2016 secured backing for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

It has since been owned by several different private investors. It is now majority owned by Tony Brown, who was previously retail director at BHS, which went into administration in 2016.

Read more: Three reasons behind Mothercare’s fall into administration

Richard Hyman, a retail analyst, said that the news came as no surprise since Beales has been on the edge for quite a while.

“Beales has courted with oblivion for some years. It is a business that is very thinly spread which makes it difficult,” he said.

The dismal period for the high street has been described by the Centre for Retail Research as a “crisis”.

In 2019, 16,073 stores were shut across the country up from 14,583 units in 2018. Additionally, its data shows that there were 143,128 job losses in 2019 up from 117,425 in 2018.

The centre has highlighted the high costs of running outlets and the subsequent low profitability as a key issue. Additionally the low growth in consumer spending since 2015 has meant that the rapid growth of online sales has come at the expense of physical stores.

It has forecast job losses to rise further in 2020 to 171,669 and for store closures to reach 17,565.

Beales declined to comment.