Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads Inc. disclosed yesterday that it is negotiating to sell the Miller & Rhoades department store chain, based in Richmond.

Garfinckel executives announced they are "having discussions" with Allied Stores Corp. of New York about the purchase of the 23 Miller & Rhoads stores.

The announcement was made because the talks have reached the point that Allied executives are preparing to visit the Miller & Rhoads stores to inspect the properties and the books, said Harold S. Trimmer Jr., secretary and counsel to Garfinckel's.

The talks began about three months ago, at the initiatife of Allied, Trimmer added.

Allied reported sales for its latest fiscal year $2.3 billion and $225.2 million in profits. As of the first of the year, the company operated 178 department stores and another 48 specialty shops in 28 states.

Allied's department stores include Bonwit Teller in New York, Jordan Marsh in the Northeast and Florida, Joske's in Texas and Bon Marche in the Northwest. Its leading specialty retailer is the Plymouth Shops chain of women's clothing stores, which recently announced plans to open three store in the Washington area.

Garfinckel executives would not comment yesterday on why the diversified Washington retailer might want to sell off its biggest department store division.

Garfincckel's does not disclose whether its individual operations are profitable, but Miller & Rhoads' problems were acknowledged by Garfinckel Chairman David Waters at the annual stockholders meeting earlier this year.

Four new Miller & Rhoads stores are being built in an effort to rebuild the chain's positin in Virginia and North Carolina markets, Waters said, indicating the parent company would prefer to invest its capital in specialty retailers with greater growth potential.