Beales to close all stores as no buyer emerges for slimmed down business
Feb 18, 2020
It looks like it could be all over for Beales with one of Britain’s oldest department store names set to disappear from the high street as its administrators at KPMG prepare to close its remaining stores. The administrators announced late on Tuesday that they’d failed to find a buyer for the business despite having earlier slimmed it down with the closure of around half of its stores in order to make it more attractive to possible bidders.
It now means that all of its stores will close with the potential loss of hundreds of jobs. At least that’s what’s expected to happen. But there could be a lifeline of sorts. When it announced the news, KPMG also added that it’s continuing discussions “with a number of interested parties for a sale of the business as a going concern”. So maybe there’s still some hope.
But even if it was sold as a going concern at the last minute, it’s unclear exactly what the surviving business would comprise.
Meanwhile, the closing down sales that will now be launched are expected to run for around eight weeks with most staff staying on for that period.
Beales was founded in 1881 and and has gone through multiple changes of ownership, most recently in 2018 when its CEO led a management buyout. Despite being given a clean bill of health by its auditor several months ago, it launched a sale process but fell into administration in January as no buyer had been found.
At the time, the crippling cost of business rates was partly blamed for its woes, with Beales estimated to have paid more than £1 million over what it should have done due to the complex traditional relief system linked to those business rates.
But despite such costs and the problem of high rents, it was mainly the change in the way people shop that affected the chain’s viability and disappointing trading over the Christmas period not only underlined its issues but contributed directly to its demise.
Join administrator Will Wright said on Tuesday: “We understand that the failure to achieve a sale so far will come as disappointing news, but can assure [everyone] that we will continue in our efforts to secure some form of positive outcome.”
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