The heritage department store has reportedly filed notice of intention to appoint administrators as it scrambles to secure a buyer.

The department store retailer, which began trading in 1881 and today operates 22 stores and employs over 1,000 staff, appointed advisory firm KPMG to advice on its “strategic and financing options” last month, including a sale of the company or its subsidiaries.

However, a deal to acquire the business has not yet been secured despite interest from two parties including another retailer and a venture-capital investor, who are holding 11th-hour talks with Beales, according to The Guardian.

The retailer’s chief executive Tony Brown told The Times that a tricky trading period over Christmas had piled more pressure on Beales.

“It has been the most challenging time for retail on record,” he said.

“Christmas hasn’t delivered what we thought it would achieve.”

Beales has struggled with lacklustre trading in recent years. The department store launched a CVA in 2017 to shutter a third of its store estate before completing a management buyout in 2018 led by Brown.

The retailer’s latest accounts saw pre-tax losses more than double to £3.2m in the year to March 2019, while sales were flat at £48.3m. The business had net current debts of £15.8m.

Beales’ travails come at a challenging time for the high street. Mothercare shuttered its final UK stores over the weekend, while Debenhams began closing 19 stores in the first raft of store closures following its CVA last year.