Beales (department store)

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New Start 2020 Limited T/A Beales
Company typeLimited company
GenreDepartment store
Founded1881 (1881); 143 years ago in Bournemouth, Hampshire, UK
FounderJohn Elmes Beale
HeadquartersHertfordshire, United Kingdom
Number of locations
2 (Poole and Southport)
Area served
Key people
Andrew Perloff (Chairman)
Tony Brown[1]
Number of employees
1000 (2020)
ParentPanther Securities

Beales is an English department store chain, which currently operates 2 branches, in Poole and Southport.[2] The former flagship store, Beales in Bournemouth, was established as The Fancy Fair by John Elmes Beale in 1881 and was the biggest department store in Dorset. The chain expanded through acquiring other department stores and continued to run two stores branded as Palmers in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft until its closure.

The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange until its private equity takeover. Beales entered administration on 20 January 2020 and finally closed their remaining stores on 18 March 2020.[3] It formerly operated 23 branches before entering administration. However, a new company, New Start 2020 Limited, reopened the Beales store in Poole in August 2020.[4]


Beales was established in 1881 by John Elmes Beale when he opened a store, initially known as a Fancy Fair and Oriental House, on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth, Dorset.[5] The company was run by the Beale family during the 20th century; Bennett Beale took over from his father, then by his John's grandson Frank.[5] Frank Beale trained at Macy's in New York City before returning to lead the company.[5] In the 1980s Nigel Beale, grandson of the company's founder, led the company.[5]

Beales claims to be the first department store in the world to feature a live Father Christmas character, dating back to 1885.[6] During the Second World War the company's Bournemouth store was bombed on 23 May 1943.[5]

The company floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1995.[7] Whitakers, the Bolton department store opened in 1829 was bought by Beales in 1996, with the name changed to Beales in 2011.[8]

Early 21st century expansion[edit]

The group acquired the Bentalls department stores in Ealing (closed October 2007), Tonbridge and Worthing from Fenwick in 2002 and closed its Walton-on-Thames store in January 2006.

A new Beales store opened in Horsham in September 2006 in premises formerly occupied by Allders. On 4 June 2010, Beales acquired the Robbs department store in Hexham from Vergo Retail which was in administration, for £250,000.[9] In August 2010, Beales expanded further by acquiring the Westgate Department Store in Rochdale from the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society.[10]

As of 5 April 2011, Beales acquired 19 additional Westgate stores, securing its long-term future.[11] In May 2012, Beales announced it would be opening an outlet store in the former T.J. Hughes store in The Mall Maidstone. This store closed in June 2013.[12] In addition a branch in Skipton closed in November 2012, a branch in Cinderford closed in July 2013.[13]

In summer 2014, the large Harrogate store closed for re-development of the land by the landlord. In June 2016, a planning application submitted by AEW UK for 76 flats in Bournemouth's Beales store was unanimously rejected[14][15] after a campaign by locals and the owners of Beales backed by Conor Burns MP.[16] The 65 studio and 11 one bedroom flats with no parking which were described by AEW UK as "an environmentally sustainable approach" which "made the best use of the building"[17] were rejected by councillors as "shabby" and "appalling".[15]

On 28 November 2018, Beales bought Palmers.[18] Tony Brown took the company into private ownership in 2018.[7] Beales was a member of Associated Independent Stores (a buying group) which enables Beales to benefit from the cost savings of buying textiles and other non-food goods in bulk.

2020 closure and reopening[edit]

The Dolphin Shopping Centre, Poole. Beales only remaining store can be seen in the background.
Beales in Harrogate in 2013. This branch closed in 2014 and was demolished in 2015.

On 12 January 2020, Beales warned that the company with 23 stores in the UK could collapse into administration, if a buyer for the business could not be found.[19]

On 20 January 2020, Beales formally entered administration, appointing KPMG as the administrators.[3] It was understood that there would be no immediate store closures and Beales stores would continue to trade as normal in the short term.[3] On the same date, the customer-facing website also went offline. At the time of entering administration, Beales had 23 stores and employed in excess of 1,000 people whose jobs were at risk.[3]

On 7 February 2020, it was announced that Beales was closing 12 stores, due to failure to sell the chain as a whole. This included Beales’ flagship store and many other significant locations.[20] On 18 February it was announced that, although negotiations with a number of parties were continuing, the remaining 11 stores would close within the following 8 weeks selling their remaining stock.[21]

The COVID-19 pandemic hastened the closure of the remaining Beales stores, with the last stores closing on 18 March and the website going offline shortly afterwards.[22] Beales owed £12.6million, and during a month of closing down sales took £9.6 million in revenue.[23]

However, a new company, New Start 2020 Limited, owned by Panther Securities reopened a Beales store in Poole in August 2020.[4] Panther Securities' chairman Andrew Perloff owned Beales for three years previously.[4] The new company hired Beales' former CEO Tony Brown to run the Poole project.[4]

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust set up a new ‘health village’ on the second floor of the Beales department store in Poole, in 2022, using material and equipment from decommissioned Nightingale hospitals. This 20,000 sq ft clinic will cover ophthalmology, dermatology, breast screening, and musco-skeletal services.[24]


Current Locations[edit]

Former locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'There'll be a difference between old Beales and new Beales': Plans laid for store's August opening". Bournemouth Echo. 7 June 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Beales department store officially opens as hundreds queue to get in". The Guide, Liverpool. 13 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Department store Beales falls into administration". BBC News. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Slade, Darren (22 July 2020). "Revealed: The brand names in the new Beales of Poole (along with bookshop and electricals)". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e "About Us". Beales. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  6. ^ "PICTURES: When the Beales Christmas parades brought Bournemouth to a standstill". Bournemouth Echo. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Beales Collapses Into Administration With 1,000 Jobs At Risk". 20 January 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  8. ^ Thompson, Stephen (8 March 2016). "Bolton Town Centre Department Store Beales in Deansgate could be forced to close because of High Rents". Bolton Evening News. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  9. ^ Amy Shields (4 June 2010). "Beales acquires Robbs of Hexham". Retail Week.
  10. ^ "Beales acquires Rochdale department store". HousewaresLive.Net. 9 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011.
  11. ^ Amy Shields; Nicola Harrison (5 April 2011). "Beales to acquire 19 department stores". Drapers.
  12. ^ "Beales department store to close in Maidstone". Kent Online. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Beale weather woes". Stock Market Wire. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Council unanimously rejects "shabby" and "appalling" Beales flats plans". The Herald Scotland. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Council unanimously rejects "shabby" and "appalling" Beales flats plans". Lancashire Telegraph. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Beales Department Store Planning Application". Conor Burns MP. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  17. ^ Farrell, Stephen (22 March 2016). "FLATS PLANNED FOR LANDMARK DEPARTMENT STORE". Insider Media Ltd. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  18. ^ a b c Coates, Liz. "Takeover deal for Palmers in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft to complete at midnight". Great Yarmouth Mercury. Archived from the original on 28 November 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Department store Beales warns of collapse risk". 12 January 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Beales to close more than half of its stores". BBC News. 7 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Final Beales department stores set to close". BBC News. 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  22. ^ a b "Beales stores are all closing for good today". Bournemouth Echo. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Beales took £9.6m in barely a month after administrators launched clearance sales". Bournemouth Echo. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  24. ^ "University Hospitals Dorset becomes first NHS trust to launch 'Think Big' project". Building Better Healthcare. 2 March 2022. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jahshan, Elias (18 March 2020). "Coronavirus prompts last 11 Beales stores to shut down 2 weeks early". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  26. ^ a b Reports and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 30 October 1993. JE Beale PLC. 1993.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Annual Report and Accounts 2011. Beale plc.
  28. ^ Grubb, Sophie (12 January 2017). "Department store is gone - but it could become a furniture store". Oxford Mail. Newsquest. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  29. ^ Ayres, Linda S. "Ezra Braggins – Founder of E Braggins & Sons". Foster Hill Road Cemetary. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  30. ^ "Bedford: Bid to make old department store space into smaller shops". BBC News. BBC. 23 March 2023. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  31. ^ Priestley, Catherine (6 October 2016). "Bishop Auckland's biggest high street shop Beales is to shut". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  32. ^ a b c Reports and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 26 October 1985. JE Beale PLC. 1985.
  33. ^ a b Reports and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 29 October 1994. Beale PLC. 1994.
  34. ^ Report and Accounts 1996. Beale plc.
  35. ^ "The history of Bolton's iconic Beales department store in Deansgate". The Bolton News. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  36. ^ Slade, Darren (19 February 2015). "134 years of Beales: a look at the department store's long history". Bournemouth Daily Echo. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  37. ^ Grassby, Jade (14 July 2019). "The Avenue shopping centre in Bournemouth is being developed". Bournemouth Daily Echo. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  38. ^ a b c d Annual Report 1991. JE Beale plc.
  39. ^ a b Annual Report 1992. JE Beale plc.
  40. ^ a b c Report and Accounts 2002. Beale plc.
  41. ^ Mckellar, Hope (8 November 2019). "Beales department store has officially opened in Fareham Shopping Centre". Portsmouth News. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  42. ^ "Beales kicks off stores drive with new format". Retail Week. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  43. ^ "Store Finder". Beales. Archived from the original on 16 February 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  44. ^ a b Whelan, Grace (18 March 2020). "Coronavirus accelerates Beales stores closures". Drapers. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  45. ^ a b Annual Report and Accounts 2010. Beale plc.
  46. ^ a b c Report and Accounts 1999. Beale plc.
  47. ^ "BREAKING NEWS: Major retailer in Horsham to close". Sussex World. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  48. ^ "Beales reveals store's closure". Keighley News. Newsquest. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  49. ^ Bargh, Becky (10 February 2020). "Beales closes 50% of stores as buyers give chain wide berth". Cosmetics Business. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  50. ^ Bale, David (26 April 2016). "Beales' store closing in King's Lynn". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  51. ^ Boyle, Danny (27 February 2013). "Beales department Store to Close in Maidstone". Kent Online. KM Media Group. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  52. ^ "Beales: Former Mansfield department store to become community hub". BBC News. 7 January 2022. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  53. ^ Jahshan, Elias (13 September 2017). "Beales set to open first Scottish store on site of former McEwans of Perth". Retail Gazette. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  54. ^ Burns, Hamish (18 March 2020). "Beales department store in Perth to close down two weeks early". The Insider. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  55. ^ Fish, Isabella (24 March 2021). "Beales to reopen Peterborough store". Drapers Online. Emap Publishing. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  56. ^ Grinnell, Paul (25 October 2023). "Furniture Retailer is Moving into Former Beales Store in Peterborough". Peterborough Today. National World Publishing. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  57. ^ "Beales department store set to close 1st August".
  58. ^ Steward, Michael (4 November 2016). "Beales in Saffron Walden closing earlier than expected". Saffron Walden Reporter. Archived from the original on 2 July 2019. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  59. ^ "'Community' store Beales announces shock closure". Surrey Live. 16 June 2005. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  60. ^ "14 things you'll only know if you grew up in Walton in the 1980s and 1990s". Surrey Live. 29 April 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  61. ^ Napier, Andrew (26 April 2016). "Beales to close store in Winchester". Hampshire Chronicle. Retrieved 20 January 2020.

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