Beales launches womenswear brand in effort to revive fortunes

Beales is pinning hopes of revival on new signature womenswear label b. Beales chief executive Allan Allkins said the own-brand collection would make its debut in all 12 stores this month. The initiative follows a limited trial of own-brand menswear last season, which will now be rolled out.

Allkins said:'It is a younger and more contemporary range. We have found since we introduced concessionaires such as Oasis 18 months ago, we have attracted a wider range of shoppers from ages 16 to 60.'

The b. collection is aimed at 30- to 35-year-old women and aims to marry quality with entry-level prices.

Beales is forging ahead with a three-year turnaround programme that it expects to complete by this end of this financial year. The strategy has included swapping classic fashion for younger fashion brands.

The introduction of a Hobbs concession in Bournemouth has exceeded expectations, and talks are taking place to extend the arrangement.

In the year to November 1 - the first to include 12 months' trading from three stores acquired from Bentalls - sales rose 10 per cent to£97.9 million. Pre-tax profit slipped back to£1.1 million from£2.5 million in 2002. For the 11 weeks to January 17, like-for-like sales fell 5 per cent.