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USC puts a third of stores on the market 

Branded young fashion chain USC is understood to be looking to offload about a third of its stores as part of a strategic review of its property portfolio.

Drapers understands that the 39-store chain has drawn up a list of those it wishes to dispose of and is circulating it within the industry.

A source close to USC said the list named between 12 to 15 “major sites” which the retailer is looking to offload. It is believed USC’s store in the Trafford Centre in Manchester is among those on the list.

USC underwent a change of ownership in July, when Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley bought an 80% stake in the business from entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter, who retained a 20% stake. The move formed part of Ashley’s plan to build a premium lifestyle division at Sports Direct.

Another source said the property review could include a rebranding of some Sports Direct stores as USC. 

“I have heard this is only part of what they are doing and that some of the Sports Direct stores are going to be rebranded as USC in places where USC will work better. It will strengthen the group to take on some good stores and get rid of some bad stores,” the source said.

The retailer had previously told Drapers that it planned to open between three and five stores annually. Before it was bought by Ashley, USC also said in March that it had invested millions in refurbishing its store portfolio. This included the relocation of footwear departments in-store.

USC generated sales of £70m in the 12 months to January 30, 2011.

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