THE boss of Beales has said a host of planned improvements to Bournemouth should make the town an “iconic place to come”.

Tony Brown – who returned to the top job at the department store chain earlier this year – once denounced the town’s Christmas market for offering “burgers, booze and tat”.

But now he is “very excited” about prospects for both Beales and Bournemouth this Christmas and in the near future.

Mr Brown ran Beales from 2008-13 and became chief executive again earlier this year. He is bringing back online shopping at Beales and revamping many product lines in an effort to better respond to customers.

Mr Brown has joined the board of Bournemouth Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and says he has been impressed by plans for the resort.

“I think it will become an iconic holiday destination in the UK. We’re working very hard on the BID board, not only on short term plans but long-term strategic planning for the town,” he said.

“I’m usually very critical of the council but the two presentations I’ve seen so far were outstanding.

“We’ve got a different Christmas market this year. I hope never to repeat the headline ‘Burgers, booze and tat’.

“If that market is going to be delivered the way it’s being presented by Seventa at the moment, and the Christmas Tree Wonderland, I think it will become an iconic place to come in the next three to four years.”

After leaving Beales in 2013, Mr Brown worked for 99p stores, presiding over its sale to Poundland, and then moved to Sydney, Australia, to work with Speciality Fashion Group.

He kept a home in the New Forest and was invited back to the board of Beales by Andrew Perloff, who bought the business for £1.2million in 2015.

Beales closed 10 loss-making stores last year and reached a company voluntary agreement (CVA) which allowed it to negotiate rent cuts on many sites. Mr Brown said that deal had been a “tremendous help” to the business.

He urged people to be positive about the town. “I’m very excited about Bournemouth. I wouldn’t have come back it I wasn’t,” he said.