Beales has today announced it has gone into administration, after a buyer for the business was not found.
The joint administrators at KPMG will continue to trade all 23 stores as a going concern while they assess options for the business.
All members of staff have been retained to assist in trading the stores.
The Bedford Independent reported on 12 January that the store group was on the brink of collapse if a buyer wasn’t found.
A week on, and accountancy firm KPMG have been called in to act as administrator, with the aim to find an eleventh-hour buyer for the stores or the group.
Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said, “For over a hundred years, Beales has been a stalwart of the high street in market towns up and down the UK, but like countless similar retailers, has found trading in recent times to be incredibly tough.
“With the impact of high rents and rates exacerbated by disappointing trading over the Christmas period, and extensive discussions around additional investment proving unsuccessful, there were no other available options but to place the company into administration.
“Over the coming weeks, we will endeavour to continue to operate all stores as a going concern while we assess options for the business, including dealing with prospective interested parties.
“During this period gift vouchers, customer deposits and customer returns/refunds will continue to be honoured.”
Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres at Bedford Borough Council said “Beales is not leaving our town centre yet with administrators announcing that they are continuing to operate all stores.
“While decisions are made at a national level about the long term future of Beales, we are working at a local level to champion Bedford’s businesses, support our town centre and our diverse vibrant high street.
“From free parking to a multi-million pound investment in the High Street, and more successful funding bids set to regenerate our town centre we are very much looking towards the future.
“With partners including Bedford BID, Explore Bedford and others we will keep working with local businesses to encourage people to visit, shop local and use their town centre.”