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Based in Bournemouth, where the company began trading in 1881, Beales Department Stores started when John Elmes Beale opened a Fancy Fair and Oriental House in Old Christchurch Road selling wares that reflected the growing enthusiasm for Chinese and Japanese design.
J E Beale was succeeded by his son Bennett Beale and then by his grandson Frank, who trained at Macy's in New York. By the late 1960s the business had extended its reach to a number of towns in the south of England.
In 2018, Chief Executive Tony Brown bought 97 per cent of the shares in the store chain with the backing of a private equity group. The company then took over the Palmers chain of department stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft taking the store count to 23.
However by January 2020 the business revealed it was struggling and considering its future options. Administrators from KPMG were appointed shortly afterwards, after a search for a buyer proved fruitless, and ultimately all of its stores were closed by March 2020.
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