Industry rumours say Jones Apparel could be about to sell off well-known brands Nine West and Barneys New York, a suggestion that analyst Marshal Cohen told just-style was not surprising.

Women's Wear Daily reported "financial and industry sources" as saying the firm could be seeking buyers for the two brands, although CFO Efthimio Sotos did not comment on the rumour when contacted by the magazine.

Cohen told just-style: "all brands are in play… this is the time when all retailers and brands are open minded about leveraging the equity they have built up for substantial brand power.

"Today, brands are becoming more and more scarce in retailers but more and more powerful even though there may be fewer of them in stores as they consolidate."

When asked who he thought could be in for the bidding, Cohen said: "Private Equity funding and even some other larger companies would love to gain growth by acquisitions."

Jones withdrew its whole business from the auction block last August after failing to draw the interest it hoped for.

Other brands in Jones' portfolio include Anne Klein, Jones New York and Joan & David.