Beales’ like-for-like sales, excluding VAT, fell 3.3% for the 11 weeks to January 17.
Beales’ full year performance was also disappointing. Revenue was £47.9m for the year compared to £58.8m, down 7.8% on a like-for-like basis. Losses before tax widened to £1.52 million for the year to November 1 2008. This was against a pre-tax loss of £1.39m in 2007, although this was over a 53-week period.
Beales said that the loss was in line with expectations. Like-for-like gross sales, which includes sales from partner concessions, dropped 6.8%. However gross margin improved from 54.2% to 54.9%.
Beales chief Executive Tony Brown said he was pleased the company had maintained margin, a key part focus of the business going forward, in the challenging trading environment.
However, he added: “2009 will be more difficult than 2008 with the credit crunch deepening and consumer confidence continuing to decline. This coupled with the weakness of the pound against the dollar and the euro, which affects our buying and therefore our buying in margins, will create further challenges.”
“We have plans in place to reduce the effect of what can be described as the perfect storm of a downturn, a strong balance sheet and a good relationship with our bank.
“The board will continue its best efforts to come out of this downturn stronger, leaner and ready to take advantage of improved consumer confidence.”