Department store chain Beales reported a resilient full-year performance and reduced pre-tax losses by more than a third.
Andy Hanson, analyst at house broker Astaire Securities, said Beales’ preliminary results “highlight the strong operational improvements continuing to drive the turnaround in group profitability”.
In the full year to October 31, pre-tax losses reduced by 35% to £990,000. Total group like-for-likes slid 0.7% to £47.6m, reflecting fewer concessions as Beales focuses on improving its own-bought offer.
Sales of own-bought ranges rose 0.5%. Concession sales fell 6.4%, which Beales attributed to a number of brands falling into administration in spring 2009 including Principles, Bay Trading and Viyella.
Gross sales excluding VAT and including concessions fell 2.8%.
Beales improved buying-in margins and inventory levels were 2.5% below last year. Full-year gross margins fell from 54.9% to 54.5%.
While Beales had a good Christmas, with like-for-likes up 2.8% in the five weeks to January 2, sales have since been hit by the snow, resulting in a 3.4% like-for-like drop in the first eleven weeks of the financial year. Beales was confident of making up the shortfall in the first half.
Beales chief executive Tony Brown said: “We have set ourselves the target of significantly reducing losses again and I am confident we will achieve this objective despite the adverse economic environment.”
Hanson forecast Beales would return to profitability in 2011.