Beales administation adds to high street woes

Department store group Beales, one of the oldest UK companies in the sector, has been placed in administration.

The retailer has 23 stores, which will continue trading while its administrator, accountancy group KPMG, seeks a solution to its issues. The Beales website has been taken offline. The retailer employs more than 1,300 people. KPMG had been appointed last month to look for possible sale or refinancing deals for Beales.

“Beales has fallen into administration, a casualty of the tough retail market where weak consumer confidence and declining footfall have already caused so much disruption to the midmarket department store sector,” said GlobalData retail analyst Emily Salter. She added that the locations of Beales stores – on mostly secondary high streets – left the stores isolated as neighbouring units ceased trading.

“An important factor in Beales going to administration is the slow speed at which it has tried to adapt to the shift to online shopping, as it only launched a transactional website in its FY2017/18 with a limited product range, which was too little, too late,” said Salter. “Consumers going direct to brands for electricals, and the shift away from the midmarket in clothing & footwear and homewares will also have damaged Beales' sales, and without a compelling own label proposition this is hard to combat."

Beales was established in 1881. Any store closures are likely to increase pressure on other high street retailers. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), 2019 was the worst year on record for UK retailer sales.

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