Britain’s independent department store Beales brings in refinancing advisers

One of Britain’s oldest department store chains, Beales, has brought in advisers to look at refinancing options in the midst of the high street’s crucial Christmas shopping period.

According to SkyNews, the privately owned department store has turned to KPMG to lead a ‘quick-fire strategic review’ that could lead to its exit from a small number of stores.

The new emerged on Monday evening, when sources told SkyNews that the company wanted to negotiate rent reduction with some of the owners of its 22 stores. Back in 2016, Beales secured creditors’ backing for a CVA to reduce rent on 11 of its then 29 stores.

The company, founded in Bournemouth in 1881 by John Elmes Beale currently employs around 1,300 people directly, with a further 300 working in branded concessions in its shops.

The chain is expected to make a statement about the strategic review at some point today. It is thought the department store is keen to explore debt-raising options that would enable it to accelerate its restructuring amid a tough retail landscape.

Beales is majority-owned by a vehicle led by Tony Brown, a name synonymous with British retailing, who has held senior roles at chains such as 99p Stores, Peacocks, and BHS. Brown led a management buyout of the business last year.

It’s understood that Brown is seeking a conclusion to the refinancing process by early 2020.

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