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City File: Buyers to ease burden on Do It All partners

BOOTS and WH Smith may find it less costly than they feared scaling back their loss- making Do It All chain. About 60 of the worst-performing DIY stores are to be shed, but buyers should be found for 40 or more. Demand is robust for out-of-town sheds. Kingfisher wants them for its new Staples format, and Dixons for its PC World and Currys chains. Allders, Matalan and Carpetright are also would-be buyers.

Boots and WH Smith shares have already put on weight over the past two weeks on hopes that the bullet will be bitten at Do It All. They have further to go. But don't expect details until after the WH Smith agm this week.

WH Smith is thought to be close to strengthening its board with a hefty appointment. Music sales are picking up, but the shares remain overshadowed by the Monopolies and MergersCommission investigation into news wholesaling.