Germany's Douglas launches sale of book store chain

DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:18am EDT

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DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German retailer Douglas has launched a sale of its Thalia book stores division, which is facing stiff competition from Amazon (AMZN.O), two people familiar with the deal said.

Financial investors are seen as likely buyers, but a deal is still a way off yet, the sources told Reuters on Thursday, after German trade magazine Lebensmittel Zeitung reported that the group was close to striking a deal.

Since being taken private by buyout group Advent last year, Douglas, which also runs stores selling beauty products, jewelry and clothes, has decided to focus on the beauty part of the business, buying up French perfumeries chain Nocibe and selling its confectionary stores.

Thalia, with around 300 book stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, has struggled to deal with the rise of online retailers like Amazon.

A spokeswoman for Douglas said it was following an active portfolio strategy and was considering its options.

She confirmed that supervisory board chairman Joern Kreke, whose son Henning Kreke is CEO of Douglas, would be standing down at the end of September, as also reported by Lebensmittel Zeitung.

(Reporting by Mathias Inverardi and Alexander Huebner; writing by Victoria Bryan; editing by Arno Schuetze and Tom Pfeiffer)

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