UK clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer has abandoned its plans to sell its US business Kings Super Markets.

"In the current US climate it has not been possible for interested parties to raise sufficient funds to purchase Kings at what we perceive to be a fair price," M&S chief executive Roger Holmes was quoted by the Financial Times as saying.

M&S bought the Kings chain in 1998 for US$110.3m, but put it on the market in July 2001 as part of the group’s recovery plan. The company had been in talks with supermarket firm D’Agostino over a $160m sale of Kings, but negotiations collapsed in December 2002.

"Although Kings is not central to our strategy, we believe that maximising shareholder value will be achieved by working with the senior management team to develop the business and drive financial performance," the group said.

M&S said it has appointed its director of food, Justin King, to oversee the US chain.