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Menswear push as Beales profits soar

Independent department store group Beales is poised to roll out men’s young fashion departments in all stores and sign additional menswear concessions following a leap in profits.

The 13-store group trialled a men’s young fashion department in its Bournemouth store this season, selling brands such as Esprit, Wrangler and Joules. Chief executive Tony Brown said it had performed “ahead of expectations” and that all stores would carry a men’s young fashion department by September.

Beales is also looking to signadditional menswear concession partners for spring 11. “The ratio of brands and own label is right now but we could do with two more strong menswear brands such as Gant,” said Brown.

The retailer launched its second own-brand menswear range - a classic shirt brand called Broadbents and Boothroyds - in May following the March launch of young fashion brand REDi.

Brown said Beales is considering relocating its Fareham store in Hampshire to a 32,000 sq ft site in March. The current 1,400 sq ft store was rebranded as Beales Boutique last month, having originally opened as a Beales for Men standalone in April. Women’s young fashion brands including Chilli Pepper and Esprit have been added to represent 40% of the brand mix.

Beales, which acquired Robbs of Hexham in Northumberland from the beleaguered Vergo Retail Group last month, will relaunch the store in September and is close to signing another store. Brown would not reveal the location but said

he was not interested in other Vergo stores, all but four of which have shut. “We want to open two or three more stores in 2011. Long term I would like 25,” he said.

Beales reported profits up 67% to £909,000 in the 26 weeks to May 1, despite a 1.8% drop in sales. Brown said margins had risen 150 base points year on year because it had “bought for promotions rather than discounting current stock”.

Fashion sales were up 4% for the period and have remained strong.

Brown said he remained “cautious” about the full year. “I think top line will improve towards the end of the year as big-ticket sales pick up ahead of the VAT increase in January,” he added.

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