M&S TO RETAIN KINGS FOR NOW

LONDON -- Marks & Spencer here was expected to unveil a new strategic plan today, but that plan will include no mention of the potential fate of its Kings Super Markets division in Parsippany, N.J., sources told SN."Kings is still not for sale," said a source close to the situation, who asked not to be identified.Analysts had speculated that Kings could go back on the block as M&S seeks to raise funds

LONDON -- Marks & Spencer here was expected to unveil a new strategic plan today, but that plan will include no mention of the potential fate of its Kings Super Markets division in Parsippany, N.J., sources told SN.

"Kings is still not for sale," said a source close to the situation, who asked not to be identified.

Analysts had speculated that Kings could go back on the block as M&S seeks to raise funds to revive its struggling apparel business in the United Kingdom.

Stuart Rose, who recently became chief executive officer of M&S, was to present his vision for reviving the company after it rejected several takeover bids from entrepreneur Philip Green. Rose reportedly has been evaluating the sale of some of the company's assets, including its financial services arm.

M&S last August took Kings, a 28-store chain known for its upscale positioning, off the selling block after seeking a buyer for several years. Previous agreements to sell the chain to D'Agostino's, Larchmont, N.Y., and Gristedes' parent company, Red Apple Group, New York, fell through.

Some observers said M&S has always been ready to consider bids for Kings, if the buyer was willing to pay the high price M&S was seeking.

"I don't think Kings was ever off the block, if someone came through and offered them enough money for it," said Matt Casey of Matthew P. Casey & Associates, a Clark, N.J.-based retail consulting firm.