Another Southport department store facing closure

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One of Britain's oldest department stores has warned that it could collapse into administration.

Beales, which has stores in Southport and Kendal, began trading in Bournemouth in 1881.

Wayfarers Arcade in Southport

Wayfarers Arcade in Southport

It said today that 22 stores and 1,000 jobs were at stake if it cannot find a buyer. The Southport store in Wayfarers Arcade was formerly Broadbents and Boothroyds, which has been in existence since 1870.

The firm is negotiating with its landlords to try and agree rent reductions.

It is also in talks with two potential buyers - a rival retailer and a venture capital investor, the BBC understands.

Chief Executive Tony Brown led a management buyout of the firm in 2018.

But last month, it announced that it was putting the business up for sale, saying it was assessing a number of strategic and financing options available to the company:

It is thought that another retail firm and a venture-capital investor – remain interested in purchasing the business.

The firm is negotiating with its landlords to try and agree rent reductions.

Its latest accounts showed that pre-tax losses more than doubled to £3.2m in the year to March 2019 from £1.5m a year before, while revenues remained static at £48.3m. The business had net current debts of £15.8m.

In those latest accounts Beales said that trading had been hampered by an industry-wide downturn in sales of women’s fashion and the 2018 Summer heatwave.

The news comes just days after Debenhams announced the date for the closure of its store on Lord Street, Southport. It will shut on January 19.