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Beales cautious after posting loss

Beales has slipped into the red and recorded an operating loss of £1.07 million for the 53 weeks to November 3 2007.

Gross sales rose by 1.1% to £108.2m over the period, but this included £1.7m generated in the 53rd week of the financial year. The comparative period ran for 52 weeks to October 28 2006.

The department store group said that trading had been hit by the worsening economic environment on top of the effect of poor weather during spring and later summer.

Chairman Mike Killingley said: "We are extremely cautious in our outlook for the remainder of the year. Economic uncertainty, coupled with higher tax, mortgage interest and energy costs, make any significant improvement in our underlying profitability difficult to envisage before 2009 at the earliest. We expect to have another difficult year."

Chief executive Allan Allkins added: "With a marked downturn in consumer spending it has been a difficult year, with the economic environment and unseasonal weather significantly affecting our apparel sales."

"Although we have experienced a difficult year I am pleased with the progress that we have made in a number of areas, particularly the comprehensive review of our cost and supply base and improvements made to our product ranges. I am confident that when the national economic difficulties that currently challenge the high street ease, we will be in a stronger position to return the business to respectable profitability," Allkins added.

Tony Brown, the former retail director at Bhs, will join Beales as chief executive replacing Allkins on April 1.

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