Beales chief executive Tony Brown is to leave the department store group and is understood to be joining Peacocks as managing director next month.

Beales chief executive Tony Brown to become Peacocks managing director

Brown will be replaced by Michael Hitchcock who has been interim chief financial officer of Beales since May 2012. Brown is expected to leave Beales on February 8.

Brown, who is believed to be joining Edinburgh Woollen Mill-owned Peacocks on February 11, will be in charge of turning around the fashion retailer, which fell into administration a year ago. He will report into chief executive Philip Day.

Brown joined Beales as chief executive in June 2008 and helped grow the department store group from 11 stores to a 33-stong chain, which included the acquisition of 19 stores from the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society in May 2011.

Before Beales, Brown was retail director of BHS for over seven years. He has also worked as operations director at grocer Somerfield.

Beales confirmed Retail Week’s story in a stock exchange announcement. The company said: “Michael has extensive experience within the retail sector having previously worked as chief financial officer at Ottakars Plc and Moss Bros Group Plc respectively.

“Since joining Beale, Michael been instrumental in leading many of the Company’s business initiatives and in a very short period of time has had a major impact on the business.”

Beales said trading director Tony Richards will take a greater role in the trading development of the company and financial controller Chris Varley will become head of finance.

Beales chairman Keith Edelman said: “The board is confident that the new management team has the right combination of skills to meet the company’s major objective of returning Beale to profitability.”

Brown was unavailable for comment. Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group chief executive Philip Day declined to comment.