One of the UK’s oldest department store chains, Beales, has appointed Will Wright and Steve Absolom from KPMG after its collapse.
Founded in Bournemouth in 1881, Beales operates 23 department stores in market towns across the UK, selling a range of furniture, fashion, toys and cosmetics. It employs more than 1,000 staff.
There will be no immediate closures to its branches and Beales stores will continue to trade, although the website is offline.
Advisers from KPMG were initially engaged by the business in December 2019 to explore possible sale and refinancing opportunities. Attempts were made to secure rent reductions with landlords and negotiations were held with potential investors and buyers.
Business rates are certainly a big part of Beales demise, but the location of these malls in principally secondary high streets, plus their failure to improve and innovate, are also a factor. That they only launched a transactional website in 2017 is telling, for example.— Jonathan De Mello (@DeMelloRetail) January 21, 2020
“Despite interest from a number of parties, this process did not secure any solvent solutions for the company, and as a result, the directors took the difficult decision to place the companies into administration,” a statement from KPMG said.
Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “For over a hundred years, Beales has been a stalwart of the high street in market towns up and down the UK, but like countless similar retailers, has found trading in recent times to be incredibly tough. With the impact of high rents and rates exacerbated by disappointing trading over the Christmas period, and extensive discussions around additional investment proving unsuccessful, there were no other available options but to place the company into administration.
“Over the coming weeks, we will endeavour to continue to operate all stores as a going concern while we assess options for the business, including dealing with prospective interested parties. During this period gift vouchers, customer deposits and customer returns/refunds will continue to be honoured.”