The owner of Beales says he is confident the troubled department store chain will emerge “stronger but leaner” if it can stave off the threat of administration.

But Tony Brown, who is also chief executive, admitted his ambition to secure a more “profitable future” for the struggling retailer hinged on crunch negotiations with landlords and councils across its 22-store estate, which includes a store in Hexham, Hexham Outlet Centre.

It emerged at the weekend that Beales was negotiating over store rents in a last-ditch attempt to avoid collapse, after it filed notice at the High Court of its intention to appoint administrators.

The company, which put itself up for sale before Christmas, has been looking to cut costs to stay afloat following poor Christmas trading and has warned of store closures.

However, it has already confirmed on its Facebook page that the Hexham store will close this year, although no date has been given. Mr Brown previously said he hoped Beales would be part of a redevelopment of the site on Fore Street in Hexham to be carried out by the landlord.

Mr Brown said: “We are confident that we have a solution for the business that will create a stronger if leaner Beales.

“It is difficult trading on the high street. The difficulties are exacerbated by the lunacy of the business rates system.

“You can have a sensible conversation with the landlord but it's impossible to have a sensible conversation with the council.

“We hope to have a stronger business at the end of the process. I can't predict which stores will stay and which stores won't because it all depends on landlords and local government.”

Recognising the situation was distressing for Beales’ 1,300 staff – and the 300 more working at concessions in its stores – Mr Brown added: “We’re going through a process and we hope to be able to restructure the business for a profitable future.”

Earlier this week Beales warned that administration could be days away if rent negotiations did not bear fruit.

And it has also been reported that Beales are in talks with two potential buyers – one a rival retailer and the other a venture capital investor.

The interest follows the launch of a formal sales process last month as part of a strategic and financial review being led by big four firm KPMG.

The retailer posting a £3.1 million loss for the year ending March 2019 – up more than a third on the year before – but said one-off costs disguised the “big achievement” of keeping sales steady.