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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK

Business: The Company File

M&S sells US supermarkets

Marks nd Spencer is holding on to its US Brooks Brothers stores

Marks and Spencer is to sell off its US supermarkets business as part of a shake-up of its international operations.

The UK retailer saw a sharp fall in profits last year and has been reshaping its international portfolio as part of its recovery package.

The store group has instructed investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to seek a buyer for its Kings stores in the US, but will hold on to and expand its American Brooks Brothers menswear chain.

M&S bought Kings, which has 25 stores in the New Jersey area, for $110m in 1988.

Buyer interest

It said on Friday that the chain no longer fitted with its strategy to focus on "key brands with international appeal".

M&S finance director Robert colville said it had received a number of indications of interest in Kings in recent years.

Analysts expect the company to fetch around £120m ($192m).

Mr Colville said: "We anticipate a reasonable level of interest".

He declined to name the interested parties, but they are believed to include Dutch retailer Royal Ahold and Belgium's Delhaize.

European expansion

M&S said it was looking to expand Brooks outside the US, particularly in Europe.

London is likely to be the first site of any European expansion.

Mr Colville said: "We believe it is a brand that can work in Europe."

Brooks was bought by M&S in 1988 for $770m.

It has recently returned modest profits after making losses for a number of years.

But Mr Colville said M&S believed Brooks had greater potential than its profits suggested.

In recent months, M&S has closed its Canadian business and axed six of its 42 European stores.

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