The new president and chief executive of Sara Lee Corp on Wednesday said the consumer goods giant hoped to sell its European clothing business by the end of fiscal year 2005, which ends July.

Earlier this month the Chicago company unveiled plans to reorganise into a tightly focused food, beverage and household products company.

As well as putting its European apparel business on the block, Sara Lee is pursuing a spin-off of its $4.6 billion Branded Apparel Americas/Asia business, which includes such brands as Hanes underwear, Bali and Playtex bras and Champion activewear.

This is likely to be completed by the first quarter of fiscal 2007 the company said.

Brenda Barnes, speaking to reporters following a presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, said there had been a lot of interest for the assets it has put up for sale.

Sara Lee's sweeping overhaul will result in the divestiture of businesses accounting for 40 per cent of its sales.