Full-year sales down
Department store group Beales has revealed preliminary operating profit was flat at£430,000, despite gross sales being down 1.6 per cent to£107 million, compared with£108.7 million in 2005.

Pre-tax profit increased 27.6 per cent to£320,000, compared with£250,000 in 2005. However, like-for-like gross sales decreased 0.1 per cent for the period.

Revenue for the year was£59.9 million, compared with£61.9 million in 2005, because of the increased value of concession sales, which are excluded from revenue calculation.

The overall fall in sales reflected the closure of the Walton store in January 2006 and the opening of the Horsham store in August.

Like-for-like sales during the first 11 weeks of the financial year to January 13 declined 4.3 per cent. Sales in the previous year were boosted at the Bournemouth and Poole shopping outlets by the local Castlepoint shopping centre being closed during key sales months of December 2005 and January 2006.

Beales chief executive Allan Allkins said: 'In what was a difficult year, I am pleased that we have made progress in a number of areas. However, it continues to be disappointing that, given the harsh retail climate, our results do not fully reflect the significant improvements we have made over recent years. While I am confident we will benefit from our most recent acquisition, it is likely that 2006/07 will be another challenging year for retail.'

Beales chairman Mike Killingley said: 'Following the opening of our store at Horsham [West Sussex], we are continuing to look for possible acquisitions in other towns.

'There is no evidence that the trading environment will improve materially during the remainder of the year, particularly following this month's increase in interest rates. We believe, however, that our trading strategy, supported by the investments that we have made in the last year, should provide an opportunity to recover the lost ground over the past few weeks.'