One of Britain's oldest department stores has warned that it could collapse into administration, with stores in the East at risk of closure.

The retailer, which began trading in Bournemouth in 1881, has 22 stores nationwide including Bedford, Diss in Norfolk, Lowestoft, Peterborough, St Neots in Cambridgeshire and Wisbech.

One thousand jobs are now at risk across the country if the company fails to find a buyer.

Beales has 22 outlets across the UK, including six in our region Credit: ITV Anglia

The Bournemouth-based retailer is understood to be hopeful that a rescue deal can be secured, but could still be forced to enter insolvency.

The firm is negotiating with its landlords to try and agree rent reductions.

Chief executive Tony Brown told a local newspaper that theretailer has struggled with difficult trading conditions and criticised the "lunacy" of high business rates.

He said: "We are confident that we have a solution for the business that willcreate a stronger if leaner Beales.

"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."

Mothercare's 79 UK stores stopped trading on Sunday Credit: PA

The retailer's uncertain future comes as another department store, Debenhams, announced the closure of 19 stores this month, including its Great Yarmouth branch, after entering administration last year.

Mothercare has also suffered from the decline of the high street, with trading at all 79 UK stores now ceased.