BEALES is expanding again with the news that it is seeking to acquire two new department stores.

The Bournemouth-based chain is in talks about taking over two Palmers stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

The move comes less than a year after Beales acquired the former McEwens store in Perth, Scotland.

A statement from the company said: “Beales, their parent company Portnard, and Palmers are in advanced talks to acquire the share capital of Palmers department stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

“Beales is a nationwide, family-owned department store group based in Bournemouth with 21 stores. Beales and Portnard look forward to working with the Palmers team to complete the transaction.

“Beales already trade in a number of towns in East Anglia. The purchase does not affect any existing stores.”

Beales chief executive Tony Brown told the Daily Echo that the deal was not yet concluded.

“We continue to look for the right opportunities in market towns,” he said.

“We still believe that department stores, especially local department stores, have a place on the high street, and we intend to protect that place and consolidating smaller groups I believe is a sensible way to go about it.”

During Mr Brown’s previous stint as the head of Beales, from 2008-13, the chain more than doubled in size after buying 19 department stores from Anglia Regional Co-Operative Society.

But the company later ran into difficulties and was heavily in debt when it was bought by investor Andrew Perloff for just £1.2million in 2015.

Beales subsequently closed several loss-making stores and secured a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to cut the rent on others.

Mr Brown returned to the chief executive role last year, saying he expected the company to be profitable again.

Its new acquisition, Palmers, was founded in 1837 at the site in Market Place, Great Yarmouth, where its store still stands.

Palmers moved into Lowestoft in 2004 when it took over a store previously called Chadds. There is a Beales store in the same road.

In recent years, Palmers has announced the closure of two other stores.

Beales’ own history goes back to 1881, when Weymouth-born John Elmes Beale opened his Fancy Fair on the site where Beales’ flagship store now stands.