Department store group Saks Inc has put its regional stores up for sale and is mulling a sale of its flagship Saks Fifth Avenue chain, according to sources close to the company.

The company's board has been using investment banks Godlman Sachs and Citigroup to consider strategic options for its retail chains, according to sources.

Although the company had originally planned to sell only its 241-store strong department store chain, a number of interested suitors for the 62-store Fifth Avenue chain are said to have recently stepped forward

Some reports have suggested that the company plans to keep the Saks Fifth Avenue group and instead sell its 230-plus regional unit, which operates store chains including Parisian, Proffitt's, Younkers and McRae's.

Saks Inc's chief executive R Brad Martin is known to be keen on selling some of the business in order to make the best use of the high premiums that department stores have been fetching recently.

Analysts have predicted that Saks may fetch premiums of at least $3 billion.

Although Saks Fifth Avenue has seen business flourishing of late, the company's department store group has been struggling to compete with market rivals such as Kohl's.

Saks Inc in January finalised an agreement to sell the leasehold interests and certain fixtures and equipment of four of its subsidiary Proffitt's North Carolina stores to retail chain Belk Inc.