DEPARTMENT store chain Beales entered administration on Monday morning.

Beales stores are however continuing to trade, including its one in Chipping Norton's High Street.

Chief executive and owner Tony Brown told our sister paper, the Daily Echo: “We’re still in active talks with various parties and those talks continue while we go into the administration process.

“I’m still confident of a positive outcome.”

The company has appointed Will Wright and Steve Absolom from KPMG Restructuring to handle the administration.

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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 solvent solutions for the company, and as a result, the directors took the decision to place Beales into administration.

Mr 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.”

Oxford Mail:

As well as disappointing Christmas trading, Beales has faced rising costs and high business rates – with its Bournemouth branch alone attracting a rates bill of £440,000 a year.

Sources said the appearance of closing down sale signs would make the situation look “bleaker than it is” as KPMG works to find a profitable future for the stores.

Beales has 23 stores in market towns across the UK selling a range of furniture, fashion, toys and cosmetics.

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About 1,052 staff have been retained by the joint administrators to assist in the stores' trading.

The Bournemouth based retailer has traded for almost 140 years and its website was taken down for "site maintenance" ahead of the news.

Beales in Abingdon, which employed about 30 people at Fairacres Retail Park, closed in January 2017.

It is the latest department store chain to suffer, with Debenhams closing 19 stores this month, including its Witney branch, which closed its doors in Marriotts Walk last Wednesday.