In Brief

What happened to Beales?

The 139-year-old department store chain is latest victim of crisis gripping Britain’s high streets

Around 1,300 jobs are at risk following the failure of last-minute efforts to prevent department store chain Beales from collapsing into administration.

The 139-year-old business has appointed accountancy firm KPMG as administrators after being unable to find a buyer or new investment, The Guardian reports.

The brand’s 23 outlets across the UK are expected to continue trading, with no immediate closures, although the Beales website was offline on Monday.

The retailer was founded in Bournemouth back in 1881 but has faced serious financial challenges in recent years. In the 12 months to March 2019, Beales reported a loss of £3.1m, up from £1.3m the previous year, the BBC reports.

In a statement today, KPMG 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.”

Some of UK’s high street’s biggest names have been struggling to survive as a result of factors including increasing business rates, high rents and the growing popularity of online shopping in recent years.

As Sky News notes, the “grim retail climate” has seen department store rivals House of Fraser and Debenhams in trouble, while Mothercare is ceasing trading, with 2,800 jobs lost.

Speaking to Southampton-based regional newspaper The Daily Echo, Beales chief executive Tony Brown criticised the “lunacy” of high business rates.

“I can’t predict which stores will stay and which stores won’t because it all depends on landlords and local government,” he said. 

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