A DEPARTMENT store that has been trading in Bolton town centre for almost 200 years could be forced to shut up shop.

Beales in Deansgate, formerly known as Whitakers, has been confirmed as one of the company’s loss-making stores across the country.

The firm’s chairman, Stuart Lyons, said this is because the lease agreed on the iconic building is no longer sustainable in the current economic climate.

Beales — which bought Whitakers in 1996 — has now announced plans to ensure its long-term viability.

The plans include a Company Voluntary Arrangement, in which the group is inviting selected landlords to restructure their leases.

Landlords of loss-making stores — such as Bolton — will be asked to reduce rents or take the premises back.

Mr Lyons said that in the situation with the Bolton store is made more complex as it is owned by two separate landlords.

He said: “Most of Beales’ stores are profitable and are unaffected by the proposal.

“However, a minority of our stores lose money because leases agreed some years ago are no longer sustainable due to changes in the economy and local conditions — unfortunately, our store in Bolton is one of them.

He added: “We have two separate landlords in Bolton, one for the main building on Deansgate and the other for Paderborn House opposite the Town Hall.

“We hope it will be possible to resolve the situation with them.”

Meetings of shareholders and stakeholders will be called on March 24 to approve the proposals.

Beales, founded in 1881, has 29 department stores across the country.

It was returned to private ownership in April 2015, when it was acquired by Andrew Perloff and his family interests.

Panther Securities plc, the landlord of twelve Beales stores, has agreed to support the CVA proposals.

The buying group Associated Independent Stores, Beales’ largest supplier, has also agreed to support them.

The store opened in Bolton town centre under the name Whitakers in 1829 — with the name change taking place in 2011 in a bid to bring all stores under the Beales’ banner.