Expanding Beales shows some UK department stores can prosper

The Beales department stores chain is proving that some smaller multi-category retailers can still prosper, despite the woes currently being suffered by larger peers such as House of Fraser and Debenhams.


Not all UK department stores are struggling


The 21-store Beales chain is looking to expand further and is in advanced talks to take over Palmers Department Stores in coastal towns Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft in the East of England.

The Beales parent company Portnard is talking to family-owned Palmers and it looks like the takeover is set to happen. Palmers chairman Bruce Sturrock said in a prepared statement that Beales and its parent “look forward to working with the Palmers team to complete the transaction.”

The Palmers workforce was informed of the takeover talks on Monday.

While there will be concerns that the combined company might look to close some sites, the statement also said that the deal would not affect existing stores. As well the two Palmers locations, Beales also has several sites in east Anglian towns, including one close to the Palmers store in Lowestoft.

Palmers was founded as far back as 1837 in Yarmouth but only moved into Lowestoft in 2004 when it took over the historic Chadds store there.

But it has faced challenges in recent years and closed two stores, in Bury St Edmunds and Dereham.

Earlier this year, Beales reported a strong Christmas period with comparable sales up 4.2%, despite the business having to be quite promotional.

It said seasonal promotions worked well for it and that its social media and email activity were also key for driving shoppers to stores. The company had to re-stock some product lines after seeing popular products selling out. And the January clearance period was positive too.

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