Discount bookseller The Works will focus store expansion in the South of England as part of a plan to more than double its portfolio as its owners mull a sale next year.

The 270-store retailer sees room for up to 600 stores in the UK, sources closes to the firm said. There is a “big opportunity” for the chain to expand in the South, where at present it is under-represented, compared with the North and the Midlands.

Private equity house Endless, which owns The Works, plans to sell the retailer next year with a price tag of £80m, following a turnaround since its acquisition out of administration in January 2008 for £17m.

Accountancy firm KPMG has been lined up to handle the process but has not yet been officially appointed.

Managing director Bob Lister declined to comment on whether the retailer would be put up for sale next year, but said that it is right now “not for sale” right now.

The bookseller is understood to have generated EBITDA of £10m in the year to April 30. Latest accounts filed at Companies House show The Works recorded total sales of £88.8m in the year to April 25, 2009.

A source told Retail Week that although talk of a sale is “premature” and that Endless is still “completely focused on The Works in the run-up to Christmas”, at some point the investor will want to “realise its stake”.

It is thought that Endless will examine options in January or February.

Endless sold half its stake to chairman Anthony Solomon and buying director David Luper after buying The Works in 2008.