The proprietors of The Daily Telegraph are accelerating plans to cash in on record festive trading at Shop Direct, their retail business, by offloading a significant chunk of the £2bn business.
Sky News has learnt that the Barclay brothers will finalise with their advisers in the coming weeks whether to pursue a partial sale through a private transaction or a stock market listing.
News of the deliberations comes weeks after Shop Direct, which owns the digital retail brand Very.co.uk, emerged as one of the big winners in British retailing from the Christmas 2016 sales period.
The company, which also owns Littlewoods.com, has benefited from growing demand for fast fashion and the explosion in retailing on digital channels.
Sources said that the Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) , who also own London's Ritz Hotel, were "almost certain" to pursue a Shop Direct transaction but that they were still considering a range of options.
Among them would be an initial public offering of Very.co.uk on a standalone basis, although a full sale is considered to be less likely.
A stock market listing would be an unexpected decision for the notoriously reclusive Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, although they could structure a deal that would allow them to receive hundreds of millions of pounds while retaining control of the business.
The brothers have sought to dampen growing speculation over recent months that they are considering a sale of the Telegraph newspapers, which they acquired more than a decade ago.
Shop Direct, which describes itself as the UK's "second-largest online pure-play retailer", attracted headlines in 2015 when it announced the closure of the Littlewoods catalogue.
Alex Baldock, the company's chief executive, said earlier this month that its digital focus had been vindicated by a 9% rise in sales during the seven weeks to 23 December.
"AI-fuelled technology like chatbots and virtual reality has the potential to leave bricks and mortar behind in offering the best personal service.
"We believe it's the next big shift in retail and financial services, and we plan to be at the vanguard."
In the year to 30 June, Shop Direct reported a 43.6% surge in underlying pre-tax profits to more than £150m.
The company's other brands include VeryExclusive, which offers high street premium fashion labels such as Vivienne Westwood, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Reiss.
As well as its retail brands, the company has a large finance arm, which enables shoppers to buy goods on credit.
A spokesman for the Barclay brothers declined to comment on their plans for the future ownership of Shop Direct.