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Department store chain axes 12 shops

PUBLISHED: 11:36 08 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:17 09 February 2020

The final 11 Beales department stores in the country are set to shut, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.. Pic: Archant

The final 11 Beales department stores in the country are set to shut, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.. Pic: Archant

Another big department chain with stores across East Anglia has announced it’s closing 12 shops.

Beales is to close its Wisbech store after efforts to sell all 23 outlets failed, according to administrators KPMG. It comes after closure signs appeared in the windows of long-established store Palmers, owned by Beales, in Yarmouth last month.

The 139-year-old business also has stores in Diss, Norfolk and Beccles, Suffolk but these are not currently on the list of closures.

The firm collapsed into administration in January after it was unable to secure a last-minute buyer.

MORE: Owners of fish and chip shop started in 1939 put it up for sale

KPMG, which were brought in to see if the business could be saved, said the 12 stores are to run closing down sales for around eight weeks, and staff will keep their jobs until then.

The department store chain employs about 1,050 people.

Administrators said there is currently no intention to implement closure plans for the remaining 11 stores, which will continue to operate as usual "until an outcome with regards to a sale of the business is clarified".

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Among those to be closed are its flagship store Bournemouth, Peterborough and Mansfield, according to KPMG.

The retailer was previously in talks with landlords over rent reductions.

It is the latest high street name to suffer from soaring business rates.

A government spokesman said: "We are aware that the administrators for Beales have decided to implement a closure programme for 12 out of the 23 stores.

"We understand this must be a worrying time for employees and their families.

Yarmouth's Palmers - considered by many as retail royalty - has stood proudly overlooking the town's market place since 1837, growing from a small draper's shop to a chain employing 400 staff with a turnover of £40m.

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