American clothing giant Limited Brands may be on the verge of selling its Express and Limited Stores divisions.

Speculation has circulated about a possible break-up of the Columbus, Ohio-based retail group following comments made by Limited Brands executives at investor meetings. They said that the company's future lies with the Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works chains.

Clothing sales have been depressed in the US for many retailers over recent months and an option that would provide the group with cash might appear attractive.

Sales at the Limited chain are about US$500 million (£249.6 million) a year. Sales at Express are more than triple this at US$1.6 billion (£798.7 million) a year.