Beales considers sale amid strategic review

Department store Beales has confirmed it is putting itself up for sale as it looks at refinancing options amid tough high street conditions taking their toll on the 138-year-old chain.

The Bournemouth-based group – one of Britain’s oldest department store chains – said it had launched a formal sale process as part of a strategic and financial review being led by KPMG, though a sale remains one option under consideration.

Beales said it “continues to acclimatise to the ever-changing landscape and challenges of the retail market”.

The group is looking for investment to “deliver a sustainable business model for the future” including cost-saving measures and a refocus on homewares, small domestic appliances, fashion accessories and shoes.

Beales, which was founded in 1881 by John Elmes Beale, employs around 1,300 staff and another 300 in concessions across its 22 stores.

It was sold in a management buy-out to group chief executive Anthony Brown in October last year.

While it is reportedly looking at a small number of store closures and moves to slash rents, the group said it also wants to look at buying sites to expand a format that has seen early successes in its new Fareham branch.

Beales launched a strategy overhaul in early 2019 to revamp its ranges, which it said is showing “significant sales improvements”.

But the retail sector – and department store chains in particular – is being hit hard by tough trading conditions.

Debenhams saw its lenders seize control of the company in April following its collapse into administration.

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