11-store Beales will share sourcing, buying, concession, visual merchandising and marketing strategy with single-store Allders in return for a management fee and a share of profits.
Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green instigated the partnership by introducing his former right-hand man at Bhs, Tony Brown – now chief executive of Beales – to Allders owner Harold Tillman.
Brown said working with other retailers is one way to ride out the effects of the economic downturn. “It is about recognising the effects of rising cost price inflation and having the help of a bigger group behind us,” he said.
Brown – who left Bhs to head Beales in June – said other retailers could benefit from such initiatives and is in talks with at least one more group about replicating the partnership.
“We are open to talking to the right partners and if there is a model out there which suits everyone, then we will keep going,” said Brown.
Grocers Waitrose and Booths also teamed up this week to form a buying alliance for branded food purchased by both supermarkets on a selected range.
Brown told Retail Week that he expects to make Beales profitable within two years. Earlier this month, the retailer revealed like-for-like sales had improved to a 6 per cent fall in the 43 weeks to August 30. It also rejected a takeover approach from property investor Andrew Perloff for 4.5 million shares.
“There has been a very rapid change and we expect the momentum to keep going,” he said.
Beales’ flagship store in Bournemouth has been revamped to feature a modernised look, with refreshed visual merchandising. Options have been reduced by about 14 per cent and the mix of premium trading to brands on promotion is 70:30.
Separately, former Storehouse director Keith Edelman is to join Beales as a non-executive director. The last remaining founding family member Nigel Beale is to retire.