The chief executive of Beales has vowed to take the independent department store business back to its roots as a “trusted, local retailer” and move away from heavy discounting.
Michael Hitchcock told Drapers Beales would also return to “traditional retail” by placing a greater emphasis on customer service to turn the 29-store business around.
It comes after Beales this week reported a 0.6% fall in sales in the 19 weeks to September 13, while for the 45 weeks to the same date sales fell 3.5%.
Like-for-like sales increased 1.7% in the half year, but for the 45-week period slumped 1.1%. The company did not report any actual sales figures.
Hitchcock said Beales was reverting back to what the customer would recognise as a defined Sale period after a series of “mega promotions” resulted in increased sales but little or no profit margin. He would not give specific dates for future Sales.
“We need shoppers to know that when we say there is a Sale in the middle or end of the season they will get value for money, but they will pay full price for new-season product in store,” he said.
“Our shopper tends to be a 50-plus woman that wants to support the local high street They want a more traditional experience where they can interact with people and touch the product. If you are selling cheap discounted goods the customer doesn’t trust you.
“It might seem like we’re moving backwards to move forward, but that’s what our customer is looking for. We’re a business in turnaround; if we want to gain the trust of our customer we have to stick to our guns.”
Sales were also affected by the closure of four stores, including three loss-making shops: Maidstone in Kent, Cinderford in Gloucestershire and Keighley in West Yorkshire. Its store in Harrogate in North Yorkshire closed due to site redevelopment.