Breaking - Future of Chipping Norton department store uncertain as chain goes into administration

The future of the Chipping Norton High Street store, Beales, is in the balance as the company went into receivership today (Monday).

Monday, 20th January 2020, 4:49 pm
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 4:50 pm
Chipping Norton's Beales store which will continue to trade while a buyer is sought. Picture by Google

Difficult trading and a 'disappointing' Christmas period have been blamed for the difficulties faced by the company, which has 23 stores all over the country.

Beales, one of Britain's oldest department stores, employs 1,000 staff. The company had been searching for a buyer or new investment for the business but had failed. KPMG has been appointed as administrators.

Spokesman Katie Broomhead of KPMG said: "Will Wright and Steve Absolom from KPMG Restructuring have today been appointed joint administrators to Beale Limited and J E Beale Plc (Beales).

"Founded in Bournemouth in 1881, Beales operates 23 department stores in market towns across the UK selling a range of furniture, fashion, toys and cosmetics. It employs around 1,052 members of staff.

"Advisors from KPMG were initially engaged by the business in December 2019 to explore possible sale and refinancing opportunities. Despite interest from a number of parties, this process did not secure any solutions and as a result, the directors took the difficult decision to place the companies into administration," she said.

The joint administrators will continue to trade all 23 stores as a going concern while they assess options for the business. All members of staff have been retained.

Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, 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.

"With the impact of high rents and rates exacerbated by disappointing trading over the Christmas period and extensive discussions around additional investment proving unsuccessful, there were no other available options but to place the company into administration.

“Over the coming weeks, we will endeavour to continue to operate all stores as a going concern while we assess options for the business, including dealing with prospective interested parties. During this period gift vouchers, customer deposits and customer returns/refunds will continue to be honoured.”