KEIGHLEY'S flagship department store Beales was under threat this week after its national bosses put the company into administration.

The 23 stores around the UK, including the one next to the Airedale Shopping Centre, will remain open while administrators KPMG try to find a buyer.

Efforts over the past few weeks to sell the company or attract new finance have failed despite interest from several parties.

Politicians this week spoke of the potentially adverse effects on other Keighley town centre shops if Beales closes.

Cllr Abid Hussain, who represents Keighley Central ward on Bradford Council, said he hoped Beales could find an investor.

He said: "They have a major store in Keighley and a lot of people come to Keighley because of it. If there's nothing like that shop then people won't go into the town centre.

"We need the footfall and the investment. We have already lost a lot of trade in Keighley. Marks & Spencer has gone and there are no other big stores."

Keighley councillor Khadim Hussain said the closure of Beales would be a massive blow to Keighley's economy and jobs.

He said: "Under the current climate it's not too optimistic. With all those empty shops, things are not looking good. Beales is on a prime site. It attracts people to Keighley then they walk around the town centre."

Cllr Zafar Ali, also from Keighley Central, said Beales attracted people to Keighley because of reasonable prices and good quality clothing.

He added: "I hope people with a lot of wealth try to bail out Beales, because then it will keep the jobs, and Keighley people will not have to go elsewhere to buy these things."

Paul Howard, from Keighley (Business Improvement District), said Beales had been trying to reduce its rents and business rates in order to survive.

He said: "Some stores can trade very well, but the national picture can make the whole set come tumbling down. It will leave a big gap next to Marks & Spencer's which isn't good for the town, so hopefully Beales will find a way through."

Beales, established in Bournemouth in 1881, employs around 1,050 people at its 23 department stores, selling furniture, fashion, toys and cosmetics.

On Monday the directors appointed KPMG Restructuring as administrators, and all the stores will trade as a going concern while options for business are assessed. All members of staff are being retained.

Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Beales has found trading in recent times incredibly tough.

"With the impact of high rents and rates exacerbated by disappointing trading over the Christmas period, and extensive discussions around additional investment proving unsuccessful, there were no other available options but to place the company into administration."