East Anglia: Beales confirms job losses as like-for-like sales fall 8.4%

DEPARTMENT stores chain Beales, which last year acquired 19 stores from the Anglia Regional Co-op, said today it was trading in line with expectations after launching a “major restructuring review” which has involved a number of job losses.

Beales said in a trading update that sales for the first 19 weeks of its new financial year, to March 10, were 45.9% up on the same period a year ago, driven by the acquisition of Anglia Regional’s Westgate business last May.

But the company, which now has a total of 32 stores, including former Anglia Regional outlets in Lowestoft, Beccles, Diss and Saffron Walden, said sales were 8.4% lower on a like-for-like basis, largely reflecting a decision to reduce the frequency of discount events.

“As noted in the annual report, trading in the current year has been significantly adversely affected by the difficult economic conditions faced by all retailers,” Beales added.

“With this in mind the group has undertaken a major restructuring review of its operations and is in the process of implementing a series of strategies which were identified during the course of the review. Trading to date is consistent with the board’s expectation of total year performance.”

Chief executive Tony Brown said the restructuring had included a mix of voluntary and non-voluntary redundancies, involving both the company’s stores and its head office, as part of a strategy to reduce the cost base.

He said the number of job losses had been kept to “a bare minimum” but declined to specify how many.

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Mr Brown added that the redundancy process had been completed at the end of February and there were no more job losses on the horizon, nor did the company have any plans for store closures.