One of Britain’s oldest department store chains, Beales is poised to fall into administration this week amid ongoing efforts to find a buyer.
Sky News has learnt that Beales is to hold a board meeting today that will pave the way for KPMG to be appointed as administrator to the business. If confirmed, the move would come amid frantic attempts to secure a rescue deal for Beales, which was founded nearly 140 years ago, and would put 1300 full-time jobs at risk.
A notice of intention to appoint insolvency practitioners was filed 11 days ago, and one source close to the retailer said it would not be extended. Insiders said that Tony Brown, the retail veteran who owns Beales, has worked “tirelessly” to secure a future for the company.
Beales, which was founded in Bournemouth in 1881 by John Elmes Beale, has been seeking to negotiate rent reductions with some of the owners of its 22 stores.The chain, which sells brands including Hobbs, Phase Eight and Tommy Hilfiger, employs about 1,300 people directly, with a further 300 working in branded concessions in its shops.
Mr Brown used a series of interviews last week to denounce the lack of support that Beales had had from local authorities during discussions about the level of business rates it is obliged to pay.
“At the moment, in my view, councils really don’t care,” he told the BBC. “They get their business rates, whether we’re there or not, because the landlord pays if the store closes.”
Talks about a sale or refinancing have been underway since before Christmas in an effort to enable Beales to accelerate its restructuring amid a challenging retail environment. A slimmed-down version of Beales could yet emerge from an administration process, according to sources.