More Changes at Saks: Possible $500M Revamp, Exec Reshuffle Goes On

Saks Fifth Avenue is expected to pitch a three-year, $500 million capital expenditure program to the Saks Inc. board for store renovations, according to...

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NEW YORK — With its top executive team in place, Saks Fifth Avenue is continuing its blizzard of change down through the management ranks — and plotting heavy investment in its future.

According to retail sources, Saks Fifth Avenue is expected to pitch to the board of directors of Saks Inc., the parent corporation, a three-year, $500 million capital expenditure program, most of which is to be earmarked for upgrades and renovations at the Fifth Avenue flagship and other key locations also considered flagships, such as the Atlanta, Beverly Hills and Boston stores.

Management also will propose several store closings, around 12 or more — mostly smaller units opened between 1996 and 1998. The capital expenditure and streamlining proposals, still being formulated and subject to change, will be made in September at the next Saks Inc. board meeting, and will be solidified at that point.

Last December, Fred Wilson became chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises. Subsequently, Andrew Jennings became president and chief merchandising officer and Ron Frasch became the number-two merchant.

Now it’s time to reconfigure the guts of the organization, with shifts affecting top fashion executives, including general merchandiser Joseph Boitano, who currently oversees designer and home and, in a major promotion, will be put in charge of all ready-to-wear.

William Lynch, who supervises women’s rtw, including bridge, contemporary and special sizes, will be shifted to working on Saks’ branding strategies and new visions for the store.

“It would be smart for Saks to align its structure more closely to Neiman’s structure, where you have one person with oversight for all of ready-to-wear,” said a source with knowledge of both retailers.

At Neiman Marcus, Ann Stordahl serves as executive vice president for all women’s categories. She is also responsible for the retailer’s New York-based fashion office. “With one set of eyes, you get a coordinated approach and a consistent taste level,” said the source.

On another merchandise front, the special-size category — in which Saks took a position long before other department stores saw the opportunity — is expected to be revamped. Large and petite lines are currently isolated like outcasts on the upper floors, but Wilson is said to be ready for some integration alongside the regular-size assortments.
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