- Department store operator Beale said today that total gross profit fell 10.5% in the weather-hit first half-year to 4th May, with gross margin largely flat.

Operating Profit (pre-exceptional costs) of £145,000, an improvement of £749,000.

Exceptional costs of £479,000 related to refinancing with Burdale Financial Limited and the move from premium to standard listing on the Stock Exchange.

The exit from TV & Audio and more targeted promotions leaves total and like for like gross sales, which include concession sales and VAT, 7% lower than last year.

The company said cost restructuring, process improvements and generally much better cost control lowered administrative expenses (excluding exceptional items)13.8%.

Cash inflow from operating activities before interest and tax of £2.3m, versus a £1.2m outflow last year.

Maidstone ceased trading on the termination of its lease at the end of June. The closure of the Cinderford store at the end of July has been announced.

Keith Edelman, Chairman, commented: "Weather has dominated and negatively affected the first half performance; the management team has undertaken a tremendous amount of work to set up the operational structure of the business to succeed. There are further initiatives in progress to further enhance the process improvements evident in the cost control and there are a number of key strategic steps being taken to drive sales."

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