A thousand jobs at risk as Beales collapses into administration

Beales Department Store, in St Neots. Picture: ARCHANT.

Beales Department Store, in St Neots. Picture: ARCHANT. - Credit: Archant

One of the country’s oldest department stores - which holds a prime spot on St Neots High Street - has gone into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

Beales, which started trading in 1881 in Bournemouth and has 22 stores nationally has failed to find a buyer after it announced it was in trouble last week.

Having been around for almost 140 years the department store chain - with sites across the county - has been battling tough high street conditions.

Back in December, Beales appointed the advisory firm KPMG to help assess "strategic and financing options," which included a sale of the company or its subsidiaries in a bid to fund its moves towards a "sustainable business model" for the future.

Having been around for almost 140 years the department store chain - with sites across the county - has been battling tough high street conditions.


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It is understood there will be no immediate closures and Beales stores will continue to trade.

The business has tried to secure rent reductions and was in negotiations with potential investors and buyers in a bid to prevent going into administration.

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The retailer also has stores in Wisbech, Peterborough, Diss in Norfolk and Bedford.

In the year to March 2019, Beales posted a loss of £3.1m, up from £1.3m for the year earlier as costs increased and sales dipped.

It comes after UK retail sales fell for the first time in a quarter of a century last year.

Sales in November and December fell by 0.9%, according to industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Previously, chief executive and owner Tony Brown has said that he hopes to secure the long-term future of its shops.

"It has been the most challenging time for retail on record," he said.

"Christmas hasn't delivered what we thought it would achieve."

The retailer is still yet to announce which stores will be affected, but it is likely that stores in the county will see job losses and could even close.

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