Former Moss Bros boss to help retailer to refinance

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The Independent Online

Listed department store chain Beales has hired a former Moss Bros board member as interim finance director as it closes in on a refinancing package.

Michael Hitchcock, who left his role as finance director of the men's suit retailer in 2010, joined the Bournemouth-based chain at the start of this month. He is helping Beales to renew its £9m working capital facility with HSBC that runs through to March 2013.

The retailer, which has 32 stores under the Beales, Robbs, Whitakers, Denners and Broadbents & Boothroyds brands, is expected to complete the refinancing at the end of next month.

Recent trading at Beales has been hit by the consumer downturn that has devastated the high street. The group has also been integrating the 19 stores it acquired from Anglia Regional Co-operative Society last year, which more than doubled its size.

Beales' like-for-like sales, including concessions, tumbled by 8.4 per cent over the 19 weeks to 10 March, largely reflecting its decision to reduce the frequency of "mega day" discount events.

Alongside its results, Beales said it had "undertaken a major restructuring review and is in the process of implementing a series of strategies which were identified". The retailer's finance director Ken Owst resigned in March and will leave in June after 18 years.

Shares in Beales closed at 24.5p on Friday, valuing the company at £5m.