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The Next Phase

In Focus
NAME:Matt Beall
LOCATION:Bradenton, US
Bealls has undergone a sweeping transformation in the last two years, with CEO Matt Beall confident the company is now positioned to grow at a healthy pace.

Get-togethers in the Beall family tend to turn out a little different to the norm. Each Christmas or Thanksgiving, as guests await the serving of the festive feast, conversations swiftly turn from how the kids are doing at school to the machinations of the world of business – more specifically to the family business, which is appropriately named Bealls.

“We’re fourth generation operated and fifth generation owned now,” CEO Matt Beall tells The CEO Magazine. With the company set up by his great-grandfather in 1915, he represents the fourth generation of the Beall family. “There aren’t a lot of fourth and fifth-generation businesses out there.”

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His family members take great pride in being part of Bealls, which he believes is a big part of the reason it is still going strong as it approaches the 110-year milestone.

A New Identity

There has certainly been much for them to talk about at those gatherings over the past couple of years. When Beall last spoke to The CEO Magazine in 2022, the company had freshly acquired bankrupted rival Stage Stores’ distribution center and intellectual property, giving Bealls the national rights to the Bealls name.

Until that point, the stores had been known as Bealls Outlet in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, and as Burkes Outlet in the other 20 states that it operates in.

“We had an honest look inward at our business and the recognition was that Bealls Outlet and Burkes Outlet were going to be weaker as the same chain with two separate names than they would be as the same chain with one name,” Beall says.

“There’s power to be had through brand recognition if you’re operating the same company under one name. And prior to that, we had been operating the same company under two different names.”

“We are not and really haven’t been an outlet since the initial days that we launched that chain back in the late 80s.”

Not only that, but Beall felt the Bealls Outlet name was something of a misnomer that was limiting opportunities for the company.

“We are not and really haven’t been an outlet since the initial days that we launched that chain back in the late 80s,” he stresses. “We don’t take seconds from other retailers, we don’t sell cheap goods in our stores. It’s not leftovers, it’s really first quality goods.”

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude for a successful and ongoing partnership with Bealls, which has fostered a positive and collaborative work environment and elevated the brand. We look forward to our continued success together in the future.” – George Altirs, President & CEO, Capelli New York


Although the name had served them well for 36 years, Beall and his team decided it was time to put it to bed. The end result was that all of the company’s Burkes Outlet stores and Bealls Outlet stores were renamed simply as bealls.

“And so once we bought the national rights to the name Bealls back from Stage, that allowed us to go ahead and go through with this change,” he says. The 68 Bealls department stores, all located in Florida, were renamed as Bealls Florida to emphasize their local roots and set themselves apart from national department store chains.

At the same time, the change linked its physical shops with Bealls’ online business, beallsflorida.com, which launched in the 1990s as ecommerce began to flourish.

“This is more of our lifestyle brand, whereas Bealls now is more of our family brand,” Beall says. “It felt right for all of those reasons and so we went for it.”

Holding Customers Close

It’s not the only bold move for Bealls. A new loyalty program also promises to strengthen its relationships with its customers. While Bealls has had a loyalty club for some time, this new revamped version which launched earlier this year, is dramatically different in a number of ways.

“It goes back probably at least a couple of decades before I got to the company where we offered an extra 10 percent off for bealls on Monday and an extra 10 percent off for Bealls Florida on Tuesday,” Beall explains.

“This is one of those things where if we’re going to be a national retailer and compete, we want to give our absolute best pricing that we can give every day of the week so that the guest doesn’t have to pick and choose, and only shop in our stores if they’re able to make it on a Monday or Tuesday.

“For me personally, if I’m shopping on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, I feel like I’m going to be paying 10 percent too much for whatever it is that I’m purchasing, if I know that I could have come in on Monday or Tuesday and got 10 percent off.”

“People don’t want the games, they don’t want the gimmicks.”

Rather than attempting to drive traffic through loyalty promotions, Beall’s aim is to instead assure customers they can come into a bealls store and find great value and an excellent selection of merchandise every day.

“People don’t want the games, they don’t want the gimmicks,” he stresses.

On top of this reliable value offer, Bealls has upped the ante in terms of the rewards it offers its customers with this new scheme.

“We used to offer US$5 off rewards for every US$200 that you spent. Now we are offering US$5 off in rewards for every US$100 that you spend,” Beall says. “That might not seem like a lot, but that’s a really big deal. We’re essentially doubling the give-back that we give to our loyalty guests.”

“Our collaborative effort with the talented and supportive team at Bealls enables us to understand and react to the current challenges and opportunities in the business. This allows us to consistently offer great products at great value to the consumer.” – Joe Pagliaro, President, Bueno of California


With around 88 percent of Bealls’ customers part of its loyalty program, that represents a significant investment, but it’s worth every cent if it keeps customers coming back into its stores.

Under the changes, loyalty rewards no longer expire after 60 days either with bealls or Bealls Florida, instead stretching the use period out to 12 months.

“I felt like we were being too restrictive, telling people when to shop on Monday and Tuesday and telling people that they had to shop within a couple of months. We want our guests to be able to come into our store when they want to come into our store and not make it about us and what we want,” Beall says.

“The rewards do have to expire at some point in time, but we’re giving them six times more time to come back and to redeem their rewards with us.”

He predicts the impact of these tweaks to be big, with the company to measure the results to ensure the company is hitting the right spot.

“There might be some short-term disruption, but we feel like in the long-term, it’s going to be a good win for us,” he says.

Eyes on Expansion

Bealls already has more than 600 stores across 23 states. But with the rebrand and loyalty overhaul now complete, the company is perfectly positioned for further growth across the United States as it pits itself against major competitors like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Burlington and Ross Stores.

“We felt that as we began to expand our footprint, operating and competing with these guys as a national retailer, that it was time to make some changes,” Beall says.

The repositioning comes on the back of several years of expansion. When Stage went bankrupt, Bealls picked up 150 of its stores.

“That was a two-year period where we experienced substantial growth and right after the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says.

“The rent prices were really good on those stores which are in great locations and great markets, so we’re really happy with those pick-ups.”

“We felt that as we began to expand our footprint, operating and competing with these guys as a national retailer, that it was time to make some changes.”

Now, the plan is to continue expanding. In 2022, Bealls opened 75 stores, followed by 25 last year. This year, it expects to open the same number.

“We’ll continue to open new stores for bealls as we find stores that look like they’re going to be good, profitable stores,” he explains.

“What we have to do in that chain in order to open more than 25 stores is work on our productivity per foot. And if we can do that and if we can get our average sales per store up 20 percent higher than what it is today, that would open up a tremendous amount of opportunity for us.”

An Evolving Approach

Having survived the trials of the pandemic more successfully than many others, heading straight into two very strong years, Beall obviously knows a thing or two about tackling a crisis head on. But, while a test of his mettle, the experience has also been transformative in terms of his leadership style.

“Today, it’s more about being authentic. We have a set of seven core values within our company and authenticity is one of them,” he explains, revealing the others as acceptance, accountability, compassion, empowerment, openness and transparency.

“I think being authentic is the price of entry. You can’t be acting, you can’t be role-playing. You have to be able to be your authentic self in the office and outside of the office.”

VolumeCocomo Apparel
“Working with Bealls proves the mutual benefits of a good partnership between manufacturer and retailer. The Bealls team accommodates customer needs through consistent availability, ensuring timely product flow. Bealls’ proven communication skills and loyalty set the standard for all retailers to follow.” – Steve Jolanga, President Sales/Merchandising, VolumeCocomo Apparel


Not only does Beall strive for authenticity in his own work, but he also encourages it throughout the Bealls team. But he admits this can be a tough one to master, as it can take a lifetime of self-discovery to find “your true self”.

When it comes to another of the core values, acceptance, Beall explains a good leader must not be resistant.

“You want people to accept the reality of the situation and then be able to pivot and use all of their energy on finding that solution, as opposed to using energy on resistance and negativity,” he says.

It’s an unconventional way of looking at leadership which applies to Bealls’ pursuit of accountability, too. Eschewing the traditional notions of being on time and being reliable, he says the company’s approach to accountability is more about a “mental state”.

“I think being authentic is the price of entry. You can’t be acting, you can’t be role-playing.”

“That means there’s no blame and there’s no victim. Accountability is when I can recognize that it wasn’t the actions of someone else that created a mental disturbance, that it was me and my judgment of their actions that created a mental disturbance,” he says.

“I’ve been attempting to live those values over the last couple of years and catch myself when I’m not. And of course life is a journey and nobody’s perfect, and there will be times when I’m not able to live the values just like everybody else. We’re all human.”

After trying to incorporate these values into his own life over the last couple of years, Beall felt at ease releasing them to the entire company – which he did over several weeks at the start of the year. While there were originally only four, the team felt something was missing, prompting them to add in the final three.

“Business is challenging enough as it is. Let’s be comfortable in our own skin. Let’s work together. Let’s get our job done. Let’s be transparent. Let’s be open to other people’s points of view. And that’s kind of what leadership looks like to me at this point,” he says.

Future Challenges

With this mentality in place, Beall feels prepared to weather any storms that may lurk on the horizon – whether they come in the form of inflation, geopolitical tensions or even the unlikely event of another major health crisis.

“Ultimately, you have to be in the present moment and to be able to adjust and adapt to whatever the situation is that you are hit with,” he stresses.

While all situations are different, many look familiar, with Bealls able to draw on former experiences to get ahead.

“We’ve seen inflation before. We saw inflation in the late 70s and early 80s so we know what that looks like and we know how to change our business strategy when we get into a difficult economic time, just depending on what the downturn is caused by.”

“As the intrepid leader of a retail dynasty, Matt Beall has remained agile and innovative, navigating his best-in-class merchant team to weather the toughest times. Bealls and Kidz Concepts will continue to be key partners for many years to come.” – Jason Gindi, CEO, Kidz Concepts


Also crucial is a leadership team that is completely engaged and determined to get through whatever that challenge may be.

But perhaps the most obvious tool is capital, Beall admits.

“This is a financial business at the end of the day and numbers matter. And so what we’ve tried to do is preserve cash, essentially, so that can help us get through difficult times and situations,” he says.

This approach certainly helped the company stay afloat during the government-imposed shutdowns as the pandemic cast its shadow across the United States and the rest of the world. While competitors such as Stage Stores collapsed under the pressure of a six-week closure, Bealls lived on.

“We weren’t highly leveraged,” Beall says. “In fact, we weren’t leveraged at all. We had a cash position. And so to be able to continue to pay our employees, our bills, our rent and for product that was en route, cash was critical.

“Regardless of what unexpected downturn arrives, if you’re in a financial position where you’re able to deal with that effectively, then you’re going to have a much better chance of survival.”

“Regardless of what unexpected downturn arrives, if you’re in a financial position where you’re able to deal with that effectively, then you’re going to have a much better chance of survival.”

It’s a luxury Bealls did not always possess, however. Back in the times of the Great Depression, founder Robert M Beall found himself in dire straits, actually losing the company to the bank.

“He spent the next 10 years working to get the company back from the local bank he had borrowed from,” Beall says. And get it back he did – a testament to his true grit and determination.

“That was a great lesson for him and my grandfather to really focus on fiscal responsibility and not leveraging, not using debt, but saving enough so that if you need it for a difficult time, then you can get through whatever the difficult time is. And it’s still something that guides our company today.”

This rich history is what makes each and every member of the Bealls team, be they family or not, proud to work for such an icon. And with the next chapter being written right now, it promises to be one of the most eventful yet.

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