Saks Fifth Avenue
Flagship store in Midtown Manhattan (2019)
Number of locations
|Saks Fifth Avenue: 40|
OFF 5TH: 110
|Marc Metrick (president, 2015)|
|Owner||Hudson's Bay Company|
|Subsidiaries||Saks OFF 5TH|
Saks Fifth Avenue is an American chain of luxury department stores owned, since 2013, by the oldest commercial corporation in North America, the Hudson's Bay Company. Its main flagship store is located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
Saks Fifth Avenue is the successor of a business founded by Andrew Saks in 1867 and incorporated in New York in 1902 as Saks & Company. Saks died in 1912, and in 1923 Saks & Co. merged with Gimbel Brothers, Inc., which was owned by a cousin of Horace Saks, Bernard Gimbel, operating as a separate autonomous subsidiary. On September 15, 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, with a full-block avenue frontage south of St. Patrick's Cathedral, facing what would become Rockefeller Center. The architects were Starrett & van Vleck, who developed a reticent, genteel Anglophile classicizing facade similar to their Gimbels Department Store in Pittsburgh (1914).
When Bernard's brother, Adam Gimbel, became president of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1926 after Horace Saks's sudden passing, the company expanded, opening seasonal resort branches in Palm Beach, Florida, and Southampton, New York, in 1928. The first full-line year-round Saks store opened in Chicago, in 1929, followed by another resort store in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1938, Saks expanded to the West Coast, opening in Beverly Hills, California. By the end of the 1930s, Saks Fifth Avenue had a total of 10 stores, including resort locations such as Sun Valley, Idaho, Mount Stowe, and Newport, Rhode Island. More full-line stores followed with Detroit, Michigan, in 1940 and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1949. In Downtown Pittsburgh, the company moved to its own freestanding location approximately one block from its former home on the fourth floor in the downtown Gimbel's flagship. The San Francisco location opened in 1952, competing locally with I. Magnin. BATUS Inc. acquired Gimbel Bros., Inc. and its Saks Fifth Avenue subsidiary in 1973 as part of its diversification strategy. More expansion followed from the 1960s through the 1990s including the Midwest, and the South, particularly in Texas. In 1990, BATUS sold Saks to Investcorp S.A., which took Saks public in 1996 as Saks Holdings, Inc.
In 1998, Proffitt's, Inc. the parent company of Proffitt's and other department stores, acquired Saks Holdings Inc. Upon completing the acquisition, Proffitt's, Inc. changed its name to Saks, Inc.
In August 2007, the United States Postal Service began an experimental program selling the plus zip code extension to businesses. The first company to do so was Saks Fifth Avenue, which received the zip code of 10022-7463 ("SHOE") for the eighth-floor shoe department in its flagship Fifth Avenue store.
During the 2007–2009 recession, Saks Fifth Avenue closed some stores and to cut prices and profit margins, thus according to Reuters "training shoppers to expect discounts. It took three years before it could start selling at closer to full price". In the following years, the company closed stores in locations including Orange County (2010), Denver (2011), Pittsburgh (2012), Highland Park, Illinois (2012/13) and in June 2013 its last Dallas store to implement the "strategy of employing our resources in our most productive locations".
As of 2013, the New York flagship store, whose real estate value was estimated between $800 million and over $1 billion at the time, generated around 20% of Saks' annual sales at $620 million, with other stores being less profitable according to analysts.
Hudson's Bay Company acquisition
On July 29, 2013, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), owner of the competing chain Lord & Taylor, announced it would acquire Saks Fifth Avenue's parent company for US$2.9 billion. Plans called for up to seven Saks Fifth Avenues to open in major Canadian markets. Expansion into Canada is expected to compete with Canadian Holt Renfrew chain and challenge Nordstrom's expansion into Canada, which began in summer 2014 with the opening of a Nordstrom store in Calgary. In January 2014, HBC announced the first Saks store in Canada would occupy 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) in its flagship Queen Street building in downtown Toronto, connected to the Toronto Eaton Centre via sky bridge. The store opened in February 2016 with a second Toronto area location in the Sherway Gardens shopping center opening in spring 2016. On February 22, 2018, Saks Fifth Avenue opened its third Canadian store in Calgary, Alberta.
Starting in 2015 Saks began a $250 million, three-year restoration of its Fifth Avenue flagship store. In October 2015, Saks announced it would debut a new location in Greenwich, Connecticut. In autumn 2015, Saks announced it would replace its existing store at the Houston Galleria with a new store.
In 2005, vendors filed against Saks alleging unlawful chargebacks. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigated the complaint for years and, according to the New York Times, "exposed a tangle of illicit tactics that let Saks... keep money it owed to clothing makers", inflating Saks' yearly earnings up to 43% and abusively collecting around $30 million from suppliers over seven years. Saks settled with the SEC in 2007, after firing three or more executives involved in the fraudulent activities.
In 2014, Saks fired transgender employee Leyth Jamal after she was allegedly "belittled by coworkers, forced to use the men's room and repeatedly referred to by male pronouns (he and him)". After Jamal submitted a lawsuit for unfair dismissal, the company stated in a motion to dismiss that "it is well settled that transsexuals are not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." In a court filing, the United States Department of Justice rebuked Saks' argument, stating that "discrimination against an individual based on gender identity is discrimination because of sex." The Human Rights Campaign removed the company from its list of "allies" during the controversy. The lawsuit was later settled amicably, with undisclosed terms.
In 2017, following the events of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Saks's San Juan store located in Mall of San Juan suffered major damages along with its neighboring anchor store Nordstrom. Taubman Centers, the company who owns the mall, filed a lawsuit against Saks for failing to provide an estimated reopening date and failing to restore damages after the hurricane due to a binding contract. Although Nordstrom reopened on November 9, 2018, on October 30, 2018, Saks Fifth Avenue announced that it would officially vacate The Mall Of San Juan.
Saks Fifth Avenue in Santa Fe Mall in Mexico City.
Saks at the North Star Mall in San Antonio, Texas
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