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Beales in last-ditch sale talks, could file for administration

Published
today Jan 13, 2020
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Venerable department stores chain Beales has warned that it could be forced to file for administration if it doesn’t clinch a sale in the next few days, putting 1,000 jobs at its 22 stores at risk.


Tough times in UK retail have driven Beales to the edge


In December it emerged that the 139-year-old brand had called in KPMG to look at its refinancing and restructuring options with a sale also mooted as a possibility. Yet it seems that a sale is now the only way forward after the company filed notice of its intention to appoint administrators. But it’s unclear what sort of price the business could command given its crisis state, as well as the current difficult state of UK retail and the department stores sector in particular.

That said, it has been reported that it’s talking to two possible buyers, one of which is a retail rival and the other that could take it over using private equity money.

The news comes after a bleak week for British physical stores retail in which John Lewis announced its MD’s exit and warned that its staff bonus might be at risk due to weak sales; that Beales’ larger peer Debenhams starts to close a raft of its stores; and just as Mothercare finally shut its UK store chain.

For Beales, it seems that tough festive season trading has pushed it over the edge. 

The company, which is also speaking to its landlords to try to push through new rent deals, was loss-making in its latest financial year with a £3.1 million loss in the 12 months to March 2019, wider than the £1.3 million loss of the previous year.

Its CEO Tony Brown led a management buyout in 2018 but has now said that "it has been the most challenging time for retail on record. Christmas hasn't delivered what we thought it would achieve”.

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