Beales, one of Britain’s oldest department store chains with shops in Skegness and Spalding, has collapsed into administration, but it is understood there will be no immediate closures.
As previously reported, the firm, which began trading in Bournemouth in 1881 and has over 20 stores up and down the country, was at risk of collapsing into administration if it couldn’t find a buyer and complete a rescue deal.
Will Wright and Steve Absolom from KPMG Restructuring were appointed as joint administrators to Beale Limited and J E Beale Plc (“Beales”) on Monday, January 20, 2020.
The joint administrators will continue to trade all 23 stores as a going concern while they assess options for the business. Beales currently employs circa 1,052 staff. All staff have been retained by the joint administrators to assist in trading the stores.
The firm’s website also currently appears to be offline.
Advisors from KPMG were initially engaged by the business in December 2019 to explore possible sale and refinancing opportunities. Despite interest from a number of parties, this didn’t secure any solvent solutions so the directors took the difficult decision to place the companies into administration.
Beales was reportedly negotiating with its landlords to agree rent reductions, and was also in talks with two potential buyers – a rival retailer and a venture capital investor.
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.”
Beales posted a £3.1 million loss in the year to March 2019, up from £1.3m for the year earlier. In 2018 Tony Brown, chief executive of the retailer, led a management buyout of the firm.
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