Saks: Dept. store nameplates take the fore

NEW YORK — Saks Inc. may pare back the number of Saks Fifth Avenue units it operates and converting some to its department store division nameplates.

"We're doing some comprehensive real estate reviews that may lead to some (Saks Fifth Avenue) store rationalization," said Stephen Sadove, vice chairman and chief operating officer, speaking at the Lehman Bros. Annual Retail Conference here this morning.

"I'm not going to commit to any specific numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if over the next period of time you will see some reduction in the Saks Fifth Avenue store base, and some may become some of our (department store) nameplates."

In some cases, Sadove explained, SFA units will just shut down permanently, depending on various criteria, including economic factors.

Also during the conference, Sadove commented on the progress of the company's department store division and its efforts to "build on our sales momentum and become more profitable."

The company is "creating a different type of department store," Sadove said, by boosting "more excitement in our merchandise assortments, transforming the shopping experience, reducing pricing confusion and executing effective localized marketing."

The company is looking to build up its Parisian department store chain, which is growing rapidly, Sadove said. Today it represents more than 30 percent of the division's business, up from 17 percent two years ago.

"It's growing financially at a faster rate that the remainder of the department store business," Sadove said. "It's a business that is performing extremely well and we do believe it is a model that can roll out into a number of cities."

Parisian, Sadove explained, has a higher level of differentiated product offerings, a higher level of customer service and a more "better" brands.

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