BEALES has brought in advisers to look at ways of raising more finance as it grapples with tough times on the high street.

A sale of the Bournemouth-based department store chain is among the options, although the company would not be drawn on whether it was preferred.

The company has hired professional services giant KPMG to conduct a strategic and financial review, triggering a formal sales process.

It is looking to cut costs and could consider closing a small number of stores.

Beales, founded in Bournemouth in 1881, employs around 1,300 people in its 22 stores, along with 300 in concessions.

Beales said: “The group continues to acclimatise to the ever-changing landscape and challenges of the retail market. Investment is sought to deliver a sustainable business model for the future.”

The business model would include cost-saving measures and a refocus on homewares, small domestic appliances, fashion accessories and shoes.

Beales said it wanted to build on the success of its Fareham store, which opened last month, by acquiring more sites of a similar format.

Beales was a public company until it was bought in 2015 by investor Andrew Perloff for just £1.2million.

The following year, it won creditors’ backing for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to cut rents and close some loss-making stores.

Tony Brown, who returned to the business for a second stint as chief executive in 2017, took control of the company in a management buyout last year.

In October, the company revealed it had made a £3m loss, but said one-off costs disguised the “big achievement” of keeping sales steady.

The exceptional costs of £915,000 included the bill for the management buyout.

Mr Brown told the Daily Echo at the time: “The key thing for us is that, despite the exceptionally challenging environment we’re in, our gross profit is flat on the year, which is a pretty big achievement in this environment.

“Nationally, you’ve had Debenhams going into administration, you’ve had House of Fraser in administration and M&S closing hundreds of stores.”

Mr Brown has said the Bournemouth store – where the business was started by JE Beale in 1881 – remains the “most challenging”.

Its Poole branch, in the Dolphin Shopping Centre, has been among the better performers.