Cumbria’s Beales store has been spared the axe after its administrators announced plans to close almost half of its outlets as talks to find a buyer drag on.

The troubled department store chain’s administrators KPMG said 12 of Beales’ 23 outlets would close in the next eight weeks, resulting in around 500 job losses.

While Kendal was not among those to close, the Hexham Outlet Centre, which is owned by Beales, is. It will close its doors for good on Tuesday, February 18.

A spokesman for KPMG said: “Employees will be retained to assist with trading over the weeks ahead and the joint administrators and their teams will continue to work closely with staff during this period.”

The future of the Kendal store and the others remaining however, remains on a cliff edge.

The 139-year-old business collapsed into administration in January after it was unable to secure a last-minute buyer.

A spokesman for KPMG said it remained in active discussions with interested parties regarding a going concern sale of the remaining stores.

It remains unclear how far negotiations with interest parties have gone, but reports prior to Beales’ collapse into administration claimed talks were being held with two potential buyers – one a rival retailer and the other a venture capital investor.

The closure of its Kendal store would leave a significant hole in the town centre's retail offer, although hopes are high a new tenant could be found should Beales vacate.

Beales was recently forced to take down ‘Closing Down – Everything Must Go’ signs from all of its stores after it was accused of misleading staff and customers by MP for Perth and North Perthshire Pete Wishart and MSP for Perthshire North, John Swinney.

At the time none of the stores had been earmarked for closure, and the signs were quickly replaced with a fresh message, ‘Massive Stock Liquidation – Everything Must Go’.

However, the Perth store was named among the 12 that are set to close in around two months’ time.

So to is the flagship store in Bournemouth, where the company is headquartered.

Beales employs around 1,000 people while a further 300 work in 300 more working at concessions in its stores.

Its owner and chief executive Tony Brown has previously spoke of his ambition for the chain to emerge as ‘stronger if leaner’, having blamed its demise on a mix of weak trading and high business rates.