About 80 people have their jobs at risk as Beales department store in Horsham faces closure.
The company confirmed to the District Post this week that the store will shut in July, ten years after it came to the town.
The store employs 31 Beales workers, but there are about 50 others not on the company’s payroll working on concessions within the store.
Beales opened at The Forum at the old Allders store at Lower Tanbridge Way in September 2006.
A statement from the company said: “The landlord of the Beales store in Horsham has given notice to terminate the lease. The lease ends in July 2016. Beales is disappointed, as it would have liked to have continued trading there.
“This matter is separate to CVA (company voluntary arrangement) negotiations. Beales employs 31 staff in its Horsham branch and is currently considering options to re-locate some of these staff to other Beales stores, as part of our normal company policy.”
Beales had already entered into what is known in the accountancy and business world as a “company voluntary arrangement” (CVA) and had been trying to agree reduced rents for nearly half of its 35 shops to help offset running costs.
The loss of Beales mirrors the decline of top-class large department stores in Sussex towns. Burgess Hill lost its large Victorian Hoadleys stores at Junction Road many years ago, Haywards Heath lost its top-class Hiltons store in South Road, and Brighton lost the renowned Hanningtons store in North Street. None has ever been replaced with a similar store and in more recent years stores have also faced fierce competition from people turning to internet shopping as well as rising rents and other overheads.
Over the years Beales has sold a huge range of goods under one roof including services such as bath shop, bedding, Café Nova, china, glass, cookshop cosmetics and fragrance, decorative accessories, electrical, fashion accessories, furniture, occasional gifts, housewares, womens fashions, shoes, lingerie, nightwear, swimwear, luggage, menswear, stationery and toys.
The opening of the Horsham store ten years ago was relatively recent in the firm’s history. Beales empire began in 1881 when John Beale opened what was then called the Fancy Fair and Oriental House in Bournemouth, considered to be the firm’s flagship store in later years.It is believed to have been the first store chain to have a “real life” Father Christmas, in 1885.
The opening of the Horsham store much later was seen as a jobs boost and also the addition of a prestige store name to a town that already had a reputation for one of the most attractive town centres in Sussex. Now the town must wait to see how long it takes to fill such a large and prominent building while the staff try to settle their futures.