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Beleaguered British retailer Marks & Spencer is expected to finalize the sale of its upscale U.S. grocery division Kings Super Markets, as well as its Brooks Bros. clothing stores, in October. The sale of Kings, initially anticipated to close this month, was delayed following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center last week. M&S' financial adviser on both sales is Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which employed 3,500 people on 25 floors of the Twin Towers.
Top prospective buyers for Kings include the Red Apple Co., which operates more than 40 Sloans and Gristede's supermarkets in New York and 350 KwikFill gas stations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio; and Vermont-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, which earlier this year purchased a majority of stores and other assets from bankrupt supermarket chain Grand Union Co.
According to an M&S representative, "We contacted everyone we are talking to and told them to concentrate on their own people for the time being."
Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings, founded in 1936, was purchased by M&S in 1988. M&S put the chain up for sale in 1999, but pulled it off the market a year later before finances forced M&S to again put Kings, as well as Brooks Bros., up for sale earlier this year. M&S said it has narrowed potential Brooks Bros. bidders down from 25 to four.