There are fears over jobs at Perth department store Beales if a buyer for the chain cannot be found.
Owners of the Bournemouth-based firm have warned it could collapse into administration if it fails to find a last-minute buyer – with around 1,000 jobs at risk across its portfolio of stores.
Beales occupies much of the landmark building in Perth’s St John Street that used to be home to flagship department store McEwens, which fell into administration in 2016.
The retailer has 22 branches and launched the Perth branch, its only Scottish outlet, in November 2017. Dozens of customers queued outside the store for the grand opening.
However, against a backdrop of the “ever-changing landscape and challenges of the retail market”, last month the firm hired advisers at KPMG to lead a strategic review in order to find a profitable future for the business.
A range of options have been under consideration, including sale of the business, refinancing its debt and trying to reduce rents with landlords.
It is understood the firm is hopeful a rescue deal can be secured but could still be forced to enter insolvency, while it has been reported management has also spoken with two potential buyers, including a venture capital investor and a rival retail business.
Chief executive Tony Brown told regional newspaper The Bournemouth Echo the retailer has struggled with difficult trading conditions and criticised the “lunacy” of high business rates.
He said: “We are confident that we have a solution for the business that will create a stronger if leaner Beales.
“We hope to have a stronger business at the end of the process.
“I can’t predict which stores will stay and which stores won’t because it all depends on landlords and local government.
“We’re going through a process and we hope to be able to restructure the business for a profitable future.”
The retailer was taken into private ownership by Mr Brown in 2018, 23 years after the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange.
The demise of McEwens in March 2016 – with the loss of more than 100 jobs – sent shockwaves through the Perth retail landscape, having been a stalwart of business life in the city for decades.
The McEwans building was subsequently sold for £675,000.