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Disney Wants Out of Retail Stores

Walt Disney has announced that Disney Stores president Peter Whitford is stepping down and the firm is looking to sell its 548-store chain with locations throughout the U.S. and Europe. The retail stores have struggled in the past few years and U.S. stores have been downsized from 522 to 387. In 2001, Disney sold all its stores in Japan to Oriental Land Co., which runs the Tokyo Disney Resort theme park. However, Disney says it will hold onto the six Disney Stores in Hong Kong, in anticipation of the opening of Hong Kong Disney in the beginning of 2006. Disney of late has been moving toward more deals with retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Target. FORBES reports that the Disney Stores could net the company nearly $495 million, which would help cut the firm's $13 billion debt.