Saks trading up at Parisian

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- 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 today.

R. Brad Martin, chairman of the board 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.

Picking up $10 million in insurance money for a New Orleans store damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Saks managed a break-even third quarter, recording a small profit of $200,000, compared with a year-before loss of $30 million, when the chain was hit by store closing costs during a sweeping overhaul of operations.

Sales at the department store retailer declined 11.2 percent, to $1.3 billion from $1.5 billion, reflecting the sale of Proffit's and McRae's earlier this year. Sales in the department store group, now being streamlined, fell 19.6 percent, to $681 million.

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