The regional department store chain Beales with a branch in Yeovil and founded in 1881 has slipped into administration putting the jobs of its 1,300 staff at risk.
If KPMG cannot find a buyer for all or part of the group of 22 stores then it could see another big name on the High Street disappear. Of course the firm has been in trouble before as in 2016 it secured a CVA to reduce rents on 11 of its stores. In October 2018 there was a management buy-out led by the CEO Tony Brown but a year later things looked bleak with KPMG appointed to make a strategic review.
Writing for the Retail Gazette website Elias Jahshan reported: “In the financial year to March 2019, the department store registered a loss of £3.1 million, up from £1.3 million for the year earlier. The poor trading was attributed to rising costs, including business rates, and a dip in sales. Last week, property consultancy firm Colliers International estimated that Beales paid £1.06 million more in business rates than it should have in the years since the revaluation of the commercial property tax scheme. Beales was a public company for two decades until its shares were delisted in 2015. It has since been owned by several different private investors.”
Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit said: “Department stores are supplied by a massive range of firms which is a big concern. From clothing to perfumes and from soft furnishings to shoes the stores also use printers, sign-makers, IT specialists, consultants of all types as well as couriers and hauliers. Potentially the fall out could be massive with the banks and the taxman at the head of the queue.
“ICSM Credit’s advice to members has been for some time to not allow any credit to the firm. Since the firm is in administration there’s little chance of outstanding invoices getting paid.”
ICSM Credit understands that some of the sites may be sold to rival stores but it is likely that most will close – whether this will be as a pre-pack remains to be seen.
Beales has stores in the following towns and cities:
- Chipping Norton
- St Neots
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