Saks Fifth Avenue

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This article is about the chain of department stores. For its former parent company, see Saks, Inc..
Saks Fifth Avenue
Industry Retail
Founded 1898 (1898)
Founder Andrew Saks
Headquarters New York City, New York, U.S.
Number of locations
Saks Fifth Avenue: 37; 7 planned; 6 International locations.
OFF 5TH: 85
(October 2013)[1]
Products Clothing, footwear, designer handbags, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares
Owner Hudson's Bay Company
Parent Saks, Inc.
Subsidiaries Saks Off Fifth

Saks Fifth Avenue is an American luxury department store chain owned by the Canadian retailer, Hudson's Bay Company. Its flagship store and corporate headquarters are located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.[1][2] Competitors in the US have historically included Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and its sister Lord & Taylor.


The 1996–2007 logo
Flagship store in Manhattan, New York

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,[3] 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 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 Bernard's sudden passing, the company assumed national aspirations, opening its branch that year in Palm Beach, Florida, as a seasonal resort store, followed by a second resort store in 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. More expansion followed from the 1960s through the 1990s including the Midwest, and the South, particularly in Texas.

BATUS Inc. acquired Gimbel Bros., Inc. and its Saks Fifth Avenue subsidiary in 1973 as part of its diversification strategy. 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 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.[4] Saks settled with the SEC in 2007, after firing three or more executives involved in the fraudulent activities.[5][4]

Since 2000 Saks has opened international locations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, and Mexico City.[6]

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-SHOE (7463) for the eighth-floor shoe department in its flagship Fifth Avenue store.[7]

Saks continued expanding its physical presence throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in Saks being saddled with a number of underperforming locations. Since 2000, Saks has closed several locations, including White Plains, Garden City, and Southampton in New York, Minneapolis, San Diego, Portland, Oregon, Kansas City, and suburban Chicago locations.[citation needed] During the 2007-2009 recession, Saks Fifth Avenue had to close 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".[8] Since 2010 another 10 stores have closed or are scheduled to close, including Pittsburgh (despite local efforts to save it),[9] Denver,[10] Charleston, South Carolina, Stamford, Connecticut, Austin, Dallas Willow Bend and Orlando which will close in 2014.[needs update] Additionally, the company closed its location in Tampa, operated since 1996, in April 2013 and its last Dallas location in June 2013 to implement the "strategy of employing our resources in our most productive locations".[11]

As of 2013, the New York flagship store generated around 20% of annual sales at $1 billion, with other stores being less profitable according to analysts.[8]

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.[12] Plans called for up to seven Saks Fifth Avenues to open in major Canadian markets, using either existing Hudson's Bay locations or new construction. Expansion into Canada was expected to challenge Canadian Holt Renfrew chain and compete with 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. The store will open in autumn 2015 with a second Toronto area location in the Sherway Gardens shopping center opening in spring 2016. Earlier, the company announced it would convert its location in the Hudson's Bay Centre at Bloor and Yonge Streets to Saks Fifth Avenue to make it part of the upscale Yorkville shopping district.[13]

On January 6, 2014, Marigay McKee, previously Chief Merchant at Harrods, became president of Saks Fifth Avenue.[14][15] She stepped down 15 months later on April 2, 2015, and was replaced by Marc Metrick, a former executive at Saks’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay.[16]

2014 transgender discrimination controversy[edit]

In 2014 Saks fired transgender employee Leyth Jamal after she was "belittled by coworkers, forced to use the men's room and repeatedly referred to by male pronouns (he and him)".[17][18] 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."[17][18][19] 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."[20] The company was removed from the Human Rights Campaign's list of "allies" during the controversy.[17][18][19] The lawsuit was later settled amicably without disclosing the terms of the settlement.[20]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Store Locations and Events". Saks Inc. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  2. ^ "About Us". Saks Fifth Avenue. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  3. ^ Block, Maxine; Rothe, Anna Herthe; Candee, Marjorie Dent (1951). Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Co. p. 173. 
  4. ^ a b Barbaro, Michael (2007-09-06). "Saks Settles With S.E.C. on Overpayments". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  5. ^ "Saks Inc. Settles Financial Reporting and Related Charges by SEC" (Press release). Securities and Exchange Commission. 5 September 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  6. ^ "Sak's Fifth Avenue International Locations | Saks website". Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  7. ^ "Saks department gets own ZIP code: 10022-SHOE". USA Today. Associated Press. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  8. ^ a b Wahba, Phil; Ho, Solarina (29 July 2013). "Hudson's Bay CEO bets big on department stores with Saks buy". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  9. ^ Gough, Paul J. (19 January 2012). "Saks Fifth Avenue Downtown to close March 17". Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  10. ^ Moore, Paula (5 January 2011). "Saks Fifth Avenue's Denver store to close". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  11. ^ "Saks Fifth Avenue To Close Store in Dallas". 4 February 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  12. ^ Lewis, Michael (29 July 2013). "Hudson’s Bay rolls the dice on Saks". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  13. ^ Strauss, Marina (27 January 2014). "Tycoon shows his real estate savvy with sale of Hudson’s Bay store". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  14. ^ Diderich, Joelle (22 January 2014). "Fashion Crowd Toasts Richard Baker in Paris". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  15. ^ "Saks Fifth Avenue Appoints Mark Briggs Chief Marketing Officer" (Press release). Hudson's Bay Company. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  16. ^ President of Saks Steps Down. The New York Times. Retrieved on April 3, 2015.
  17. ^ a b c Steinmetz, Katy (2015-01-12). "How the Lawsuit Between Saks and a Transgender Employee Might Shake Out". Time. Retrieved 2015-01-13. 
  18. ^ a b c Hoffman, Meredith (2015-01-13). "Saks Is Fighting to Discriminate Against a Transgender Ex-Employee". Vice News. Retrieved 2015-01-13. 
  19. ^ a b Reilly, Nicholas (2015-01-09). "New York department store Saks 'defends discrimination against transgender staff'". Metro. Retrieved 2015-01-13. 
  20. ^ a b Zillman, Claire (2015-03-05). "Saks settles discrimination suit with transgender employee, after sparking outrage". Fortune. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 

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