Monday 20 January 2020 12:43 am

Department store chain Beales falls into administration

Department store chain Beales has entered administration this morning, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk.

The retailer had been in crisis talks with potential buyers in a bid to stave off a collapse, however the company was unable to secure a deal.

Professional services firm KPMG has been appointed as administrator, and the firm’s 23 stores will continue to trade while it assesses options for the business, including “dealing with prospective interested parties”.

Last month Beales 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.

Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “For over a hundred 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.

“Over the coming weeks, we will endeavour to continue to operate all stores as a going concern while we assess options for the business, including dealing with prospective interested parties. During this period gift vouchers, customer deposits and customer returns/refunds will continue to be honoured.”

Beales chief executive Tony Brown told the Financial Times last week that it was in talks with a rival retailer and a venture capital company. The department store had hoped to secure a sale by the end of last week.

Brown accused councils of failing to help struggling retailers, saying that local authorities “really don’t care” about high street stores.

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

“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 collapse of the chain, which was founded in 1881, comes after what experts have described as the “worst year on record” for retailers, as overall annual sales dipped for the first time since 1995.

Department stores in particular have struggled in the challenging retail environment, as Debenhams and House of Fraser have both been rescued out of administration in recent years and John Lewis issued a profit warning earlier this month.

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