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Sears break-up under way with pounds 9m sale

Sears, the troubled retail conglomerate, made its first move in the expected break-up of its shoe business yesterday when it sold 65 department store concessions to American Group Nine West.

Nine West's Shoe Studio Group, is paying pounds 9m for net assets of pounds 11m. The deal will protect 800 jobs in the 65 largest concessions which will be transferred to Nine West at the end of this month.

Discussions are continuing to sell the remaining 150 concessions. But if Sears cannot find a buyer it will close the rest at the end of January 1998 with the loss of 950 jobs.

Nine West is one of America's largest footwear retailers. It already owns fashion shoe group Pied a Terre in the UK.

The sale of the concessions business is the first disposal since company doctor David James moved into Sears' troubled British Shoe Corporation subsidiary in the spring. He is finalising the group's business plan to present to the Sears board in the autumn.

Though Sears says it is keeping its options open, City analysts expect formats like Shoe Express, Shoe City, Dolcis and Cable & Co to be sold.