NEWS

Department store chain Beales in refinancing talks

Published on: 17th December 2019

The retailer is said to be working with KPMG to explore options.

According to Sky News, Beales, one of Britain’s oldest department store chains, has drafted in advisers to explore refinancing options. The retailer has tasked KPMG with leading a strategic review which could lead to the closure of a small number of stores.

Sources said on Monday evening that Beales is seeking to negotiate rent reductions with some of the owners of its 22 stores, while it is also thought to be keen on exploring debt-raising options that would enable it to accelerate its restructuring process. An outright sale of the business, while plausible, is not thought to be the preferred option.

The retailer employs around 1,300 people directly, with a further 300 staff working in branded concessions across its store estate.

According to insiders, Beales’ stores in market towns are thought to be performing well, while a number of new formats previously introduced by its management team have also produced encouraging results.

Beales is majority-owned by a vehicle led by Tony Brown, an experienced retail professional who has held senior posts at 99p Stores, Peacocks and BHS. Tony Brown led a management buyout of the business last year, and is understood to be seeking a conclusion to the refinancing process by early in the new year.

Beales was a public company until its shares were delisted in 2015. It has since been owned by several different private investors. In 2016, it secured creditors’ backing for a Company Voluntary Arrangement, paving the way for substantial rent reductions at 11 of its 29 stores.

A statement about the strategic review is expected to be made today.

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