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Saks Fifth Avenue
Offers Premier Style at a Value
by Beverly Dykes
So it’s a sunny mid-week day and you’ve opted to spend your lunch break strolling through your favorite open air shopping mecca. On impulse, and having never ventured into one, on this day you decide to check out the offerings at the Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th store that recently opened right next door to your favorite high-end fashion footwear store at the local outlet mall. Once inside the door, you are impressed with how sizable the store is. After browsing the perimeter, you find yourself gravitating toward the center of the store, where there are walls featuring an array of stylish handbags and accessories that grab your attention. A glance around the corner reveals dozens of shoes on display, in a range of colors and styles to suit a multitude of occasions. You sneak a quick peek at a few of the items’ price tags and that clinches it; you’re going to have to come back when you have more time to do some serious shopping!
Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th is the ultimate destination for perusing discount designer clothing and accessories for a discerning clientele. The store’s shoppers are able to take advantage of getting the quality and exclusivity of Saks merchandise, at a considerable value over the chain’s full price venues. Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th features collections of apparel for men, women, and children and items for the home that are available at everyday savings of anywhere from 40% to 70% off original and comparable prices.
Saks Incorporated has always had the ability to meet the expectations of its target customer base, transforming with the times to achieve continued distinctiveness in the marketplace and a reputation as a world-renowned retail icon. The company’s history includes the evolution of two concepts that merged in 1998, resulting in the company ultimately being named Saks Incorporated. Throughout its development, the mission has always been to inspire customer confidence and style with every Saks shopping experience.
One part of the equation started out as Proffitt’s Inc., which had a chain of five stores serving the region of metropolitan Knoxville, Tennessee. During the period of 1994 to 1998, the company added McRae’s, Parisian, Younkers, Hefberger’s and Carson Pirie Scott & Co. (which included Bergner’s and Boston Store), as well as 32 additional stores from Lovemans, Hess, Parks Belk and Brody’s, which were converted into existing store nameplates. Proffitt’s Inc. went public in June of 1987.
Saks Fifth Avenue began with the opening of a store on upper 5th Avenue in Manhattan operated by Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel in 1924 that aimed to become the first and only choice of customers exhibiting exceptional taste and elegance. The unique specialty store quickly gained a reputation for offering the finest in fashionable items for gracious living and gift giving (encompassing the categories of apparel, shoes, handbags, jewelry & accessories, beauty & fragrance, and home & gourmet). Under President Adam Gimbel’s direction, the chain grew into an empire of stores that spanned the U.S. BATUS, a subsidiary of B.A.T. Industries PLC, acquired Saks Fifth Avenue in 1973 through its acquisition of Gimbel Bros. Inc., and subsequently sold it to Investcorp S.A. and a group of international investors in 1990.
The first of the concept’s outlet locations had its debut in 1992 in Pennsylvania under the name Clearinghouse. With a decision to expand in 1995 came the name change to OFF 5th. In late 1998, Profitt’s, Inc. and Saks Holdings, Inc. undertook a merger transaction wherein Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th outlet stores became a division of Proffitt’s, Inc. and the corporate name became Saks Incorporated. To create value for its shareholders, the company sold the Proffitt’s and McRae’s business to Belk, Inc. in 2005, and its Northern Department Store Group to The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. in 2006. The Parisian business was sold to Belk, Inc. in October of 2006. The sales of these department store businesses generated funds used to purchase company stock, pay a cash dividend to shareholders and substantially reduce debt. Today the company’s operations are focused on the ongoing success of Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, and saks.com (an online presence launched in 2000).
Saks Fifth Avenue is generally regarded in the industry as one of the markets pre-eminent specialty retailers. Among consumers, it is recognized as an arbiter of modern style that features the finest designer collections, an expertly edited selection of items, and a personalized level of client service owing to retail associates who demonstrate unrivaled fashion expertise. At any given time, the inventory features merchandise bearing the labels of 30+ well known designers, among which can be found Bottega Veneta, Chloe, Diane von Furstenberg, Dolce & Gabana, Girogio Armani, Manolo Blahnik, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Saint Laurent and Tory Burch. Exuding modern energy and fashion authority, the chain continually pays tribute to its rich legacy of exceptional style and service.
Saks Fifth Avenue OFF Fifth is the value-driven outlet shopper’s source for an unparalleled selection of coveted designer names (in the categories of men, women and children’s apparel and accessories as well as items for the home) and other unique merchandise under the distinctive Saks Fifth Avenue label. At OFF 5th, emphasis is on savvy style, superior customer service and value. In 2008, a new “luxury-in-a-loft” store design and format began to be incorporated that set an elevated standard for the off-price luxury category in the industry. It offers a brighter, more inviting environment, with larger aisles, moveable fixtures and improved merchandise presentation.
At present, there are approximately 42 Saks Fifth Avenue stores , and 66 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th stores operating in 32 states across the country, in addition to five licensed international locations. In the coming years, the company projects opening new units in 2013 in FL, GA, IL, MO, MS, and VA. 2014 will see new sites developed in FL, IL, KY, MN, and NY, while projections for 2015 call for stores opened in Las Vegas, NV and San Juan, Puerto Rico as well as other target market regions. Going forward, the company has disclosed an intent to open five to seven new stores annually. On par with its future growth plans, the company is seeking to occupy sites ranging in size from 20,000 to 35,000 sq. ft. for its OFF 5th venues, and 100,000+ sq. ft. for the Saks Fifth Avenue concept. Preference is to locate space in premium lifestyle centers, outlet centers and enclosed super regional malls.
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