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Beales has tough start to the year

Like for like sales at department store Beales declined 6.1% for the 19 weeks to March 15, following tough trading over the last six weeks.

At the company’s AGM this afternoon, chairman Mike Killingley said: "Since the end of the first quarter, high street trading conditions have remained challenging. We will continue to explore all opportunities to maximise shareholder value."

Like-for-like sales dropped 6% for the first quarter to February 2. Killingley said that gross margins were marginally higher than last year, despite the sales shortfall. He said: "The first quarter’s expenses were considerably lower, partly because of the absence of the Ealing store, but also as a result of the expense reduction exercise undertaken last year."

The retailer’s store in Ealing was closed at the end of last year’s trading. Beales now has 11 shops in the UK. Nine trade as Beales, in Bedford, Bournemouth, Horsham, Kendal, Poole, Tonbridge, Winchester and Worthing, while the remaining three trade under their own individual name, Broadbents & Boothroyds of Southport, Denners of Yeovil and Whitakers of Bolton.

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