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Government urged to show ‘clear and coherent’ strategy to tackle the high-street crisis as Beales goes into administration

SHOP workers’ union Usdaw urged the government to show a “clear and coherent” industrial strategy to tackle the continuing high-street crisis after department store chain Beales collapsed into administration today.

Administrators stepped in to see if the 139-year-old Bournemouth-based retailer can be saved, but about 1,050 jobs at 23 stores remain at risk.

The company’s website was taken down immediately but the stores will continue to trade while a buyer is sought.

Ahead of the administration, Beales’s chief executive Tony Brown said that the retailer had struggled with difficult trading conditions and criticised the “lunacy” of high business rates.

The company had been in talks with landlords over rent reductions through a company voluntary arrangement, but two potential buyers fell through.

Usdaw national officer Dave Gill said the union is providing its members at Beales with support, representation and advice “at this difficult and uncertain time.”

He said: “We urge the administrators to treat the staff with dignity and respect, keep them fully informed and do everything possible to save jobs and keep as many stores open as possible.

“The scale of the retail crisis in recent years is devastating — not just for staff but also for our communities and shopping centres.

“We need a government-led clear and coherent industrial strategy for retail to address the growing crisis on our high streets, as we have called for through our Save our Shops campaign.”

A government spokesman said it is in direct contact with the company’s CEO and officials are “monitoring the situation closely.”

Beales is the latest high-street name to suffer. House of Fraser and Debenhams have both been resuscitated after administration while Mothercare closed its doors for good last week.

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