BEALES has called off its plan to buy two more department stores, citing the “challenging retail environment”.

The Bournemouth-based department store chain said in May that it was in “advanced talks” to buy Palmers stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

That announcement came less than a year after it acquired the former McEwens store in Perth, Scotland.

But in a statement, the company said: “Due to the current challenging retail environment, Beales will not be pursuing the acquisition of Palmers Department Stores in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

“The focus will instead be on growing current sales and our online business.”

Beales has 21 department stores across the country.

It more than doubled in size from 2008-13 but ran into difficulties and was heavily in debt when it was bought by investor Andrew Perloff in 2015, for just £1.2million. It subsequently closed several loss-making stores under a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).