Department store chain Beales in take-over by biggest shareholder

Wisbech Town Centre, High Street

Wisbech Town Centre, High Street - Credit: Archant

Beales, the department store chain with a branch in Wisbech, is to be taken over by its biggest shareholder at a knock-down price.

Andrew Perloff, whose firm Panther Securities and its associates own nearly 30% of Beales, valued the company at £1.2 million, almost 50 per cent less than the price at the close of trading last Friday.

Beales have described the offer value as disappointing but admitted that, in view of its complex capital structure, its shareholders may wish to accept the “certainty” provided by the proposal.

The company, which was founded in 1881 and has its flagship store and headquarters in Bournemouth, trades from a total of 29 stores including in Wisbech, Lowestoft, Beccles, Diss, Saffron Walden, King’s Lynn, Peterborough and St Neots, which were among 19 stores acquired by Beales from the Anglian Regional Co-operative Society in a £7.5 million deal in 2011.

Mr Perloff’s companies also own the freeholds of 11 Beales stores.

A new management team has successfully in stabilised and improved trading according to Beales but business conditions remained volatile and difficult to predict.

Like-for-like sales were 1% higher in the 26 weeks to November 1 but trading over the nine weeks to 3 January was challenging with a weak autumn followed by a strong festive period.

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Chairman William Tuffy said the proposal offered “the certainty of a cash exit for shareholders” and improved the medium term financial security of the Beales business.

Mr Tuffy added that realistic alternatives to raise additional capital could not be achieved without the support of its major shareholders.

He said: “We believe that this proposal represents a better alternative for all stakeholders than the business continuing with its current capital structure, given the level of risk this would entail.”