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Carter Hawley to Sell Its 15-Store Unit in Canada

February 19, 1986|NANCY RIVERA | Times Staff Writer

Carter Hawley Hale Stores said Tuesday that it has "reached an understanding" for the sale of Holt Renfrew & Co., its Canadian high-fashion specialty store chain, to a privately held Canadian investment firm.

No price has been set in the sale of the 15-store Holt Renfrew chain to Wittington Investments Ltd., an investment firm for members of the Weston family, well-known retailers in Canada.

Los Angeles-based Carter Hawley bought Holt Renfrew in 1972 for $12 million, a company spokesman said. The Holt Renfrew stores, all of which are in Canada, are comparable in merchandise to Neiman-Marcus, which is also owned by Carter Hawley.

Holt Renfrew is Carter Hawley's only foreign division. The company determined that selling it would allow management to focus on resources within the United States, the spokesman said.

Wittington Investments Ltd. is controlled by W. Galen Weston, who heads George Weston Ltd. of Toronto. George Weston Ltd., which is one of Canada's largest companies with sales of more than $8 billion, is a food processor and distributor and soft-goods retailer in North America and Europe.

Holt Renfrew accounted for just under 3% of Carter Hawley's $3.7 billion in sales in the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, 1985. The chain is profitable, the Carter Hawley spokesman said. Holt Renfrew is one of Canada's oldest companies, tracing its roots to a fur business begun in the 1830s.

The sale of Holt Renfrew "shows that the company's management is intent on maximizing the return on their U.S. assets," said David Jackson, an analyst with Morgan, Olmstead, Kennedy & Gardner. "Holt Renfrew was a minor contributor at best, and I think (Carter Hawley is) . . . better off without it."

The sale is subject to several conditions, including reaching a definitive agreement.

Carter Hawley operates 129 department stores, including the Broadway and Emporium Capwell. It also owns 171 specialty stores grouped into four divisions--Contempo Casuals, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman-Marcus and Holt Renfrew.

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