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Majority shareholder backs Beales’ acquisition plan

Andrew Perloff, the property entrepreneur who upped his stake in indie department store chain Beales to 29.7% last month, wants to grow the 11-store business through potential acquisitions, Drapers has learnt.

It is understood that after he increased his stake from 10% in February, Perloff met with the board of the business and confirmed that he would back the retailer’s growth plans, which could include snapping up other businesses.

An industry source told Drapers that a potential deal with discount department store chain TJ Hughes, which is considering a sale, could make sense for Beales, which has stores in towns including Bournemouth, Kendal and Yeovil.

As Drapers went to press, Beales was expected to tell shareholders at its AGM that like-for-likes fell during the 19 weeks to March 13 and were adversely impacted by the snow in January. However, like-for-likes are understood to have moved into positive territory since the end of January.

Meanwhile, fellow department stores Debenhams and House of Fraser this week revealed robust trading off the back of strong own-brand fashion sales. Debenhams said like-for-like sales rose 0.3% in its first half to February 27 with gross transaction value up 1.7%.

Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said the department store’s Principles by Ben de Lisi range, which relaunched last month, could prove the department store’s biggest success yet.

The brand helped Debenhams, which is converting 530,000 sq ft of store space to house own labels, to deliver a better-than-forecast first-half trading update. Templeman added that like-for-like sales and gross margins were on an improving trend.

Meanwhile, House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy wrote to suppliers this week reiterating the retailer’s commitment to growing its own-label portfolio. McCarthy told suppliers that like-for-like sales rose 10% in the first five weeks of the financial year to March 7 largely as a result of the strong performance of its own brands, which notched up a sales rise of 50% on last year.

Last week, John Lewis said sales of fashion outperformed the rest of its categories, rising 9% in the year to the end of January.

The retailer reported a like-for-like increase of 2.3% during the year, with operating profit, excluding property gains, up 15% to £165.9m.

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