Target Puts Marshall Field's, Mervyn's on the Block

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Target Corp. has retained Goldman Sachs to explore the possible sale of its Marshall Field's and Mervyn's retail stores, the company said yesterday.

Target, Minneapolis, operates 266 Mervyn's locations and 62 Marshall Field's in the United States employing 54,000 people. The company said it does not expect many store closings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Wednesday.

"We have dedicated significant effort to increasing sales and profits at Mervyn's and Marshall Field's over many years," Target chairman/CEO Bob Ulrich said in a statement. "As responsible stewards of the corporation's assets, we believe that it is appropriate at this time to identify and evaluate possible strategic alternatives."

The news comes a little over a month after Target said it would shut six catalog titles, including three Marshall Field's Direct titles as well as I Love a Deal, Signals and Wireless while at the same time explore the sale of the Signals and Wireless titles.

Target said last month that fiscal year 2003 revenue for its retail stores rose 9.7 percent to $48.26 billion. However, the Marshall Field's division saw a drop from $2.7 billion in 2002 to less than $2.6 billion in 2003, and Mervyn's revenue was down 4.1 percent from the previous year to $1.1 billion in 2003.

Target told the Star Tribune that the book value of the two chains was $3.6 billion.

Libey-Concordia, Philadelphia, an advisory and investment banking firm serving the catalog industry, was hired by Target to handle inquiries on the catalog sale. The three Marshall Field's titles were expected to drop their final catalogs this month, and Signals' last mailing will be in June. I Love a Deal and Wireless are no longer mailing.

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