IT was the year Brexit threatened to overshadow everything else in the business world.

But in turbulent times, there were plenty of businesses that made the headlines for other reasons.

Beales is under new ownership after its chief executive, Tony Brown, performed a management buyout with the backing of a private equity group.

Mr Brown then quickly revived plans to buy two more shops in East Anglia, taking the Bournemouth-based department store chain to 23 branches.

The company had begun the year by announcing a 4.2 per cent rise in sales, in continuing shops, in the six weeks ending just after Christmas 2017.

It was nonetheless a challenging year in retail, with the loss of several high street names.

House of Fraser announced a raft of store closures, which initially included its large Bournemouth branch. That plan was put on hold when Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley bought the business and the future of the store is currently unclear.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer closed a series of stores including its Bournemouth branch which had been in Commercial Road since 1930.

As online retail continued to grow, Poole-based marketplace revealed last month that transactions so far in 2018 were up by 608 per cent year-on-year. The site, aiming to offer an alternative to Amazon, was boosted by a partnership with PayPal.

The “the beast from the east” – the dramatic cold snap at the start of March – took a toll on retailers. But it also hit Dorset insurer LV=, which said the weather event had cost it £17million in claims.

It said the business otherwise enjoyed good trading, after a year in which it cut costs, axed 400 jobs and returned to profit.

Poole-based luxury boat builder Sunseeker International said its businesses had been turned around and was on course for growth, after revealing a 17 per cent rise in revenue this summer.

The Chinese-owned business picked up a clutch of awards and was an official partner of the World cup in Russia, with 1966 England hero Sir Geoff Hurst appearing on the company’s stand at the London Boat Show.

In September, Sunseeker announced its first yacht to be made abroad – a 160ft, metal-hulled craft to be built with ICON Yachts in Holland. It said the move would protect jobs in Poole and Portland, which could not cater for customers looking to move up to the bigger yachts.

Sunseeker also saw the departure of chief executive Phil Popham, to be replaced by Aston Martin Lagonda executive Christian Marti.

Another Poole-based global brand, Lush, made headlines with its controversial #Spycops campaign against the tactics used by some undercover police officers to infiltrate pressure groups.

Despite heavy criticism on social media, boss Mark Constantine revealed later that the campaign coincided with a rise in sales.

He said: “You should tell your customers what you believe in and if they don’t agree, well they shouldn’t shop with you and if they do agree, well they should shop with you.”

Mr Constantine – who was the subject of a book written by lifelong friend Jeff Osment – also revealed plans for Lush to open hair salons, starting with one in Bournemouth.

Bournemouth-headquartered retirement developer McCarthy & Stone announced the departure of chief executive Clive Fenton in a “tough year”, with profits expected to fall.

It announced a cost-cutting drive aimed at saving more than £40million a year by 2021, under new boss John Tonkiss.

McCarthy & Stone’s Horizons building, overlooking Poole Park, was named the UK’s best retirement scheme at the Housebuilder Awards.

Christchurch-based Jimmy’s Iced Coffee was selling a carton every seven seconds after being added to the drinks selection in Boots.

It unveiled new packaging and a lower-sugar recipe, and was on course to sell 5.5million drinks by the end of the year.

It also installed a fridge at Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s accident and emergency department, with enough free iced coffee to keep the staff fuelled.

Regional & City Airports (RCA), the company that bought Bournemouth Airport at the end of 2017, revealed that it aimed to double passengers to around 1.5million in the next five years.

Shortly afterwards, it was revealed that Loganair flights to Jersey and Guernsey would start next April, while Ryanair would fly from Bournemouth to Dublin.

RCA is part of the Rigby Group, which announced record revenues. It also attracted a large company, Gama Aviation, to Bournemouth, moving facilities there from Oxford and Farnborough.

Among other company moves, ESET – the biggest seller of antivirus software in the UK – opened a new and larger British base in Bournemouth. It was named the most successful company from Slovakia for three years running.

The Bournemouth-based healthy food brand Organix launched a campaign to “clean up the junk” in children’s food, enlisting TV personality Cherry Healey.

Its #FoodYouCanTrust campaign highlighted the fact that sales of unhealthy snacks for babies and toddlers had risen by 70 per cent in two years.

The year ended with a shock as a well-known Dorset company Apple Home Improvements, collapsed, putting at least 100 people out of work.

The news, less than a week before Christmas, also left many customers with unfinished work or lost deposits.