Sadove Outlines Turnaround Plan for Saks

What a difference two years can make.

Stephen I Sadove Saks Inc

Stephen I. Sadove, Saks Inc.


What a difference two years can make. Since he took the helm as chief executive officer of Saks Inc. two years ago and chairman last year, Stephen I. Sadove has been credited with relaunching, rebuilding and rebranding financially, physically and emotionally one of the icons of American retailing.

During his keynote speech at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit, Sadove said a culture of change, innovation and leadership helped him, with his team, to turn the once-troubled retailer's fortunes around.

"We created a very simple model that I use in running a company," said Sadove. "This isn't rocket science — it's all about leadership and identifying what kind of a culture you want to have within a company," he said. "To us, the most important factors are a culture that fosters and drives innovation, and fosters and drives and grows people. With those two things, if you have the right kind of innovation and you have the right way that you're focusing on people, that then leads to the results."

It was a change that Sadove worked to put in place after being named Saks ceo in January 2006. Prior to joining Saks (he had joined the retailer's board in 1996 and was named vice chairman of Saks in 2002), Sadove had a 25-year career in consumer marketing and products. He had been the president of Clairol, and was also in charge of the Bristol-Myers Squibb beauty care division when it was sold in May 2001 to Procter & Gamble for $5 billion.

"When I came into Saks, one of the things that I found was exactly what I found at Clairol," he said. "It was what I called a vertical organization. Every decision went right up to the merchants and up through the store organization — you didn't have collaboration cutting across. In transforming an organization from a vertical organization to a horizontal organization, we created multifunctional teams....It's getting people on the same wavelength. If every decision is made at the top and if every decision is second-guessed, that creates a culture."
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