Published: October 7, 2019 | Updated: October 8, 2019

Challenging retail climate and one-off costs lead to worsening losses of £3.2m at Beales

Beales’ flagship store in Bournemouth.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

An “exceptionally challenging” retail climate and several one-off costs saw store group Beales go into the red by more than £3m in its last financial year.

Annual results for the Bournemouth-based company, owned by Chief Executive Officer Tony Brown, reveal a pre-tax loss of £3.172m for the year to March 31.

That compares with a £1.469m pre-tax loss in the previous 12 months.

Turnover dipped slightly to £48.345m (2018: £48.723m).

In his director’s report, Mr Brown said: “As with all retailers we face exceptionally challenging times including the heatwave of 2018 which had a significant impact on all high street retailers.

“The actions taken over the prior two years to reduce costs and close loss-making stores continued in 2018/19, closing one store and serving notice on another.

“During the last 12 months we have reviewed all our costs and have made further cost savings.

“We continue to review central costs and expect to make more savings over the coming 24 months as we implement a wide-ranging productivity improvement strategy which we expect to deliver significant savings across stores and head office.”

The £3.172m pre-tax loss followed exceptional and one-off costs for the year of £915,000 for refinancing and the transactional cost of last year’s management buy-out as well as increased pension charges.

The store group also had to absorb increases for the National Living Wage and increased pension contributions of £352,000.

Mr Brown, who purchased Beales through his wholly owned company, Brown Retail Holdings Ltd, last October pointed out that, despite the challenging environment, gross profit had been maintained at £25,069m (2018: £25,019m).

The first Beales department store started trading in Bournemouth in 1881.

Since then Beale Ltd and its subsidiary J.E.Beale plc has expanded to include 21 department stores at other locations across England and one in Perth, Scotland.

The stores sell a wide range of both own bought and concession goods ranging from fashions and cosmetics through to housewares and furniture.

Beales employed a total of 1,148 people during the year, a rise of 53 on the previous 12 months.

Mr Brown, as the highest paid director, received total remuneration of £195,917 in the year to March 31.