Beales boss: ‘Councils really don’t care’

Beales store in Bournemouth Image copyright Google

Councils “really don’t care” about supporting High Street trading, the boss of struggling department store chain Beales has told the BBC.

Beales, which began trading in Bournemouth in 1881, has warned that it could fall into administration.

The company runs 22 stores across the UK and about 1,000 jobs are at stake.

“We’ve only managed to get one council to help us out on a temporary basis,” Beales boss Tony Brown told the BBC’s Today programme.

“At the moment, in my view councils really don’t care.

“They get their business rates, whether we’re there or not, because the landlord pays if the store closes.”

Mr Brown said that his current focus was trying to secure a “profitable future” for the department store. Several options are being considered, including seeking a buyer, negotiating rent reductions with landlords, and restructuring the business by closing some stores.

He stressed that landlords were “mostly” helpful and could see a long-term future for the business, but he has felt let down by local and central government.

“For example, in a number of our stores, I pay three or four times more business rates than I do rent. Now, that can’t be right,” he said.

He added that “the sheer weight of the additional costs that are piled upon us – if you take the pension increases, you take rates, you take changes in the way we can apply for lending – there is a co-ordinated effort, or what feels like it, to make it as difficult as possible [to trade on the High Street].”


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