Published: January 13, 2020 | Updated: January 14, 2020

Beales on the brink: Bournemouth-based store group could go into administration within days

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

Beales could be just days away from going into administration.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, the Bournemouth-based store group is facing collapse unless a sale can be completed quickly.

The paper says Tony Brown, Chief Executive Officer, who acquired the company in October 2018 in a management buyout, is hopeful of securing the long-term future of Beales.

But, he tells The Sunday Times: “It has been the most challenging time for retail on record.

“Christmas hasn’t delivered what we thought it would achieve.”

Beales, which was founded in 1881, last month announced a strategic review and the start of a formal sale process under the Takeover Code.

It said it was assessing a number of strategic and financing options open to the company, including a sale.

Tony Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Beales.

Beales has 22 department stores in England, including its flagship Bournemouth shop.

Last October an “exceptionally challenging” retail climate and several one-off costs saw Beales report a £3.172m pre-tax loss for the year to March 31 on a £48.3m turnover.

In a statement, issued on December 17, Beales said it continued to acclimatise to “the ever-changing landscape and challenges of the retail market”.

It added that investment was sought for a sustainable business model for the future to include:

  • Implementation of further central cost saving strategies.
  • Focusing on housewares, small domestic appliances, fashion accessories and shoes. All are showing significant sales improvements following a change in strategy launched earlier this year.
  • Building on the success of its new Fareham store by exploiting further opportunities to acquire retail sites of a similar format.

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

  • Flashback: ‘Do I think Beales has a future? I’d hardly have bought the company if that wasn’t the case’. Read our October 2019 interview with Mr Brown here.