Department store group Beales has posted a 1.7% fall in like-for-like sales,including concessions and VAT, after a fall-off in demand for big ticket items.

Total group sales rose 0.8% year-on-year in the 45 weeks to September 11, driven by a strong performance in womenswear, toys and linens.

In the last quarter the department store added two new stores to its portfolio. In June it bought Robbs of Hexham,which was refurbished and relaunched on September 1. In September it agreed to be the anchor store in The Market Place shopping centre, Rochdale. The store will trade under the name of Whitakers.

Gross margin including concessions for the second half was marginally below the previous year. The retailer said it is maintaining a “vigorous” approach to expense control and like-for-like costs during the period lower than the previous year. 

Beales has also secured a £9m loan with a renewed operating overdraft of £112,000 with HSBC for a two-year period.

Beales reported: “The retail outlook continues to be challenging, but the board believes the strategies and actions that have been and are being taken are beginning to show improving returns.”

The retailer will issue full-year results on October 30.