Australian retailer Foodland Associated has said it is still in talks regarding the possible sale of its New Zealand department store chain Farmers and hopes to soon make a decision on the future of the unit.

Managing director Trevor Coates said the company remained in negotiations with a number of interested parties, including private equity investors, trade buyers and credit card operators, about the sale of the 50-store chain.

“Certainly by the beginning of next week at the latest we should be able to give people a general update” about the future of Farmers, Coates was quoted as saying by Dow Jones International News.

Analysts had valued Farmers at around A$250m (US$163.7m), but a weak sales performance in the fourth quarter could force the price down.

Coates said Farmers “has not performed to expectations”. The unit’s fourth-quarter sales were down 2.6% to A$150.2m. Annual sales, however, rose 7.6% to A$644m.

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