Department store operator Beales has revealed its pre-tax profits fell from £570,000 to £540,000 in the 26 weeks to May 2.

Like-for-like sales declined 2.4 per cent in the period. Total sales remained broadly flat at £26.7m, compared with £26.8m the same period last year.

Concession sales declined 6 per cent, affected by the collapse of brands such as Elvi, Principles, Viyella, Adams, and Royal Worcester. New brands to the department store group include Mamas & Papas, Joules, Chilli Pepper and Craghoppers.

The retailer said it achieved good sales growth from many own-bought areas, such as homewares, linens and menswear. It is in the process of developing its own new fashion label, Crimson.

Beales will be the first independent department store chain to launch GIVe, the new fashion brand from George Davies, in October.

The retailer’s final salary scheme was closed to future accrual from April 30, having been closed to new entrants from 1997.

Chairman Mike Killingley said: “The economic environment in the UK provides extremely challenging trading conditions for retailers. We expect these conditions to continue in the second half.”

He added the retailer must “increase sales while improving margins” in order to lift Beales’ performance.

He said: “We are continuing to pursue an aggressive promotional strategy, growing our buying-in margins and focusing on cost control. When the economic environment improves, we are confident that the action being taken will enable us to restore the group to full-year profitability.”