Jones Apparel Group, which owns brands such as Jones New York and Anne Klein and operates retailers Nine West and Barneys New York, yesterday said it was exploring a sale of the company.

Its shares closed up over 13 per cent at $34.84.

Speculation of a sale had intensified after published reports that the company was considering a sale of the entire company as well as just the Nine West business. In a statement, Jones said that “contrary to recent press reports” it was not considering the “divestiture of any of its businesses or divisions”.

Jones, which is in the midst of a corporate restructuring, has seen profit fall for two consecutive years.

It faces a decline in sales as its biggest customer, Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, has reduced orders from clothing makers as it combines with May Department Stores and launches its own-label brands.

Jones generated $5.1bn in sales last year and has a market capitalisation of $4bn.

Over the past several years it has acquired a number of brands, and
clothing and footwear licences in an effort to diversify its portfolio.

In 2004, Jones made a surprise foray into the luxury market with its purchase of Barneys New York, the retailer, for about $400m. The move gave the company exposure to the fast-growing luxury segment and has helped boost earnings.

In January, Jones said fourth-quarter profit rose 63 per cent, helped in part by strong sales at its Barneys chain.

Last month, Jones sold the Polo Jeans licence back to Polo Ralph Lauren and said it would use the proceeds to explore strategic options, including acquisitions and share repurchases.

Jones has hired Goldman Sachs as financial adviser.

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