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Saks Trading Up at Parisian

Saks Incorporated plans on expanding the number of Parisian specialty department stores it operates, while also trading up to a better line of products in those stores, company executives related during a third-quarter earnings conference call.

R. Brad Martin, chairman and CEO of Saks Incorporated, noted that Parisian's roots as a department store have left a legacy of lower opening price points. The company plans to change that, he said, by morphing to a more specialty-store assortment. “Average price points will be traded up,” said Martin.

Saks opened a 124,000-square-foot Parisian store in October, located in Collierville, Tenn. (Memphis market).

The company also plans to expand its line of Club Libby Lu units — pursuing a stand-alone mall-based business model.

“We believe there are both domestic and international growth opportunities for this specialty store concept. New store growth will be moderate in the near term as the Club Libby Lu team focuses on comparable-store sales growth and operating income expansion,” said Martin.

The company expects to reopen its Hurricane Katrina-damaged Saks Fifth Avenue Store in New Orleans late next year.

Saks' financials will continue to be impacted by expenses related to the sale of its Northern Department Store Group to Bon-Ton, slated to close in the first quarter of 2006. That's because Saks must continue to invest money in people and back-office technologies to prevent business disruptions or large-scale personnel flight during the ownership transition.

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