Retail Ventures Inc said late Wednesday that it had retained Financo Inc and CIBC World Markets Corp to advise it about "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale, for its Value City Department Stores division.

RVI said that it was not considering a sale of its two other units, DSW Inc and Filene's Basement, and cautioned that it couldn't assure investors that its initiative would result in a specific transaction.

The Columbus, Ohio-based off-price retail group added that it would not be disclosing information on the progress of the initiative "unless and until the board of directors has approved a definitive transaction."

The announcement came just two days after RVI reported a net loss of $34.1m during the third quarter ended 28 October. Without a non-cash charge reflecting a decline in the value of warrants, the loss would have been a more modest US$3.5m.

During the period, sales rose 5.6% to $787.6m, but were down fractionally at Value City to $341.2m. Filene's Basement sales were up 11.8% to $114.2m and those at DSW advanced 9.9% to $332.2m.

On a same-store basis, Filene's was strongest (up 4.5%), followed by DSW (up 2.6%) and Value City (up 1.4%).

For the nine months, DSW moved ahead of Value City in division volume, garnering $950m in sales, or 43.3% of the total, to Value City's $946m, or 43.1%. Comparable-store sales were up 4.8% at Filene's, 3% at DSW and 0.6% at Value City.

At the end of the quarter, RVI operated 113 Value City stores, 30 Filene's Basements and 215 DSW units.

While DSW is nationwide in scope, Filene's Basement is strongest in the north eastern and mid-western US and Value City spans the mid-west, south east and mid-Atlantic regions.
By Arnold J Karr.