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WARRENDALE, PA-As many analysts expected and American Eagle Outfitters’ CEO hinted, the locally based retailer agreed to dispose of its 109-unit Bluenotes/Thrifty’s Canadian subsidiary. The buyer is Michael Gold, owner of the privately held, Toronto-based YM Inc. retail company.

The transaction is expected to close on Dec. 4. Terms of the sale are undisclosed. American Eagle will take a fourth-quarter loss of between 0.8 cents and 11 cents a share, which represents between $6 million and $8 million, related to the Bluenotes’ sale. According to published reports, it paid $74 million for the chain, which it acquired in 2000.

Ever since, the chain’s performance has been “disappointing,” Jim O’Donnell, American Eagle’s CEO, said during a third-quarter conference call last month, even though in third quarter 2004 the subsidiary achieved its first slightly positive comp-store sales in nine consecutive quarters. During the conference call, O’Donnell said the company was considering “alternatives (for Bluenotes) that I’m not free to discuss.”

In announcing the sale to YM, he said, “With the sale of Bluenotes, we can now devote our attention to expanding the AE brand in the US, Canada, and worldwide. We are also well-positioned to focus on the development of our next US retail concept,” he added. The concept, which principals have not yet described, is scheduled to launch in spring 2006.

YM owns and operates 240 Stitches, Urban Planet, and Sirens apparel stores, primarily in Canada with some units in the US and Puerto Rico, along with the Suzy Shier apparel chains, which YM acquired last year. Suzy Shier operates approximately 450 stores under a variety of brands, including Suzy Shier, L.A Express, anne-x, La Senza and Silk & Satin. The latter two specialize in intimate apparel. The Suzy Shier units are located primarily in Canada, and it also operates approximately 50 licensed units in the UK and has a handful of licensed stores in the Middle East.

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