Downturn knocks sales at Beales

Department store retailer Beales saw like-for-like sales fall 6.4% in the half year to May 3 and expects no improvement in the months ahead.
Overall, sales were down 14.5%, but that figure reflects the closure of the Ealing store last October. Revenue was £27m compared to £32.4m, including Ealing, in 2007.

The retailer has, though, made substantial cost reductions during the period, £1.25m down on those of the same period last year on a like-for-like basis, and more when the Ealing store is taken into account. The savings enabled Beales to deliver virtually unchanged pre-tax profit of £881,000 against £875,000. The company has debt of £5.3m.

Tony Brown, retail director of British Home Stores for the last seven years, joined Beales on June 1 as chief executive, replacing Allan Atkins, who has retired.

Commenting on the interim results, chairman Mike Killingley said: “The deterioration of the UK economy since this time last year has dramatically affected consumer confidence, and it seems likely that the economy will remain depressed for some time.

“We have limited the impact of these difficulties by reducing our cost base substantially and we are continuing to examine costs critically to enable further savings to be made. A return to profitability, however, depends on reversing the decline in sales.”

He added that the company did not expect any improvement in its sales performance during the rest of the year.

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