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Beales could go into administration this week

Lauretta Roberts
20 January 2020

Beales, the department store chain, could be placed into administration this week and is set to appoint KPMG to handle the task, it has been reported.

Last week it was revealed that the chain, which operates 22 stores and employs more than 1,300 staff, would face administration unless a buyer was found.

As well as the 1,300 staff working across the Beales chain, a further 300 are employed in concessions. Fashion brands stocked by the historic retailer include Phase Eight, Tommy Hilfiger and Hobbs.

It is understood that CEO Anthony Brown, who led an MBO at the business in 2018, has been working tirelessly to find a buyer and has been in negotiations with councils about business rates.

In interviews with the media, Brown, who has previously held senior roles at 99p Stores, Peacocks and BHS, claimed councils were unsympathetic to the retailer's plight since they could collect the rates from the landlord even if the property was empty. He told The BBC that is was his view that councils "really don't care".

Based in Bournemouth, with stores across the south and east of the country from Beccles to Yeovil, Beales is one of the oldest department store chains in the UK having been founded in the Dorset town by John Elmes Beale in 1881.

Its struggles come during a tough time for department stores nationally and follows the collapse into administration of both House of Fraser in 2018 and Debenhams in 2019, both of which have since closed stores and plan to close more.

Bournemouth town centre lost its long-standing Marks & Spencer store as part of that group's rationalisation plan and is also home to large branches of Debenhams and House of Fraser (formerly known as Dingles in the town). Neither of these stores are listed on immediate closure lists but their future remains uncertain.

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