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Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue
Founded1867 (153 years ago) (1867)
FounderAndrew Saks
Headquarters611 Fifth Avenue, ,
United States
Number of locations
  • 40 (full-line)
  • 110 (Off 5th)
Areas served
  • United States
  • Canada
Key people
Marc Metrick (president, 2015)
SubsidiariesSaks Fifth Avenue Off 5th
Footnotes / references

Saks Fifth Avenue is an American chain of luxury department stores owned, since 1867, 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.[5][6]

Early history

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,[7] 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[clarification needed] 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.[8] 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 1990, the company launched "Saks Off 5th", an outlet store offshoot of the main brand, with 107 stores worldwide by 2016.[9]

History under Proffitt's and Saks, 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.[10][11]

Since 2000 Saks has opened international locations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Canada, and Mexico City.[3]

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.[12]

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".[13] In the following years, the company closed stores in locations including Orange County (2010),[14] Denver (2011),[15] Pittsburgh (2012),[16] Highland Park, Illinois (2012/13)[17] and in June 2013 its last Dallas store to implement the "strategy of employing our resources in our most productive locations".[18]

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.[13][19]

Current operations under Hudson's Bay Company


Interior entrance of the Saks Fifth Avenue store at Toronto Eaton Center in Toronto, Ontario (2016)

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.[20] 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[21] with a second Toronto area location in the Sherway Gardens shopping center opening in spring 2016.[22] On February 22, 2018, Saks Fifth Avenue opened its third Canadian store in Calgary, Alberta.[23]

Starting in 2015 Saks began a $250 million, three-year restoration of its Fifth Avenue flagship store.[24] In October 2015, Saks announced it would debut a new location in Greenwich, Connecticut.[25][26] In autumn 2015, Saks announced it would replace its existing store at the Houston Galleria with a new store.[27][28]


On March 17, 2020, Saks temporarily closes their doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic.[29]

Legal controversies

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.[30] Saks settled with the SEC in 2007, after firing three or more executives involved in the fraudulent activities.[30][31]

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)".[32][33] 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."[32][33][34] 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."[35] The Human Rights Campaign removed the company from its list of "allies" during the controversy.[32][33][34] The lawsuit was later settled amicably, with undisclosed terms.[35]

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.[36][37] 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.

Notable locations

Saks–34th Street

33rd Street Bridge.jpg

Saks-34th Street was a fashion-focused middle market department store that was spun off from Saks & Company when that upscale retailer moved to a new store on New York's Fifth Avenue, a location that Saks Fifth Avenue maintains to this day.[38] Saks-34th Street became a part of the New York division of Gimbels, and a sky bridge across 33rd Street connected the second floors of both flagship buildings.[39] In the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street the facade of Saks-34th Street is shown in a scene that focuses on the Gimbel's flagship store. Branch locations were opened around the greater New York area. After Gimbels decided to close the division, the first floor of the building was used as a Christmas season annex for Gimbel's before being sold to the E. J. Korvettes chain.[40][41] After the demise of the Korvette's chain the building was remodeled into the Herald Center. Today primary tenant is H&M.

Beverly Hills

Saks Fifth Avenue at 9600 Wilshire Boulevard is a department store in Beverly Hills, California. It is part of the Saks Fifth Avenue company. It was designed by the architectural firm Parkinson and Parkinson, with interiors by Paul R. Williams.[42][43] The store opened in 1938.[44] The exterior of the building was designed by the Parkinsons, with the interior completed by Williams in the Hollywood Regency style.[42] David Gebhard and Robert Winter, writing in Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide described the building as having "enough curved surface to suggest that the thirties Streamline Moderne could be elegant".[45] The store was expanded and redesigned by Williams in 1940 and 1948.[46] The store was immediately successful upon opening and it would subsequently expand to almost 74,000 square feet (6,900 m2) and employ 500 people.[46]

Williams's designs for the store marked a departure from traditional department stores by reducing the emphasis on commerciality that foresaw the rise of boutique stores in the 1980s and 1990s. Only a few examples of merchandise were displayed in hidden recesses. The President of Saks Fifth Avenue, Adam Gimbel, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that "Each room attempts to create a mood which is in keeping with the merchandise sold there. For example, a Pompeian room done in cool green with appropriate frieze is used for beach and swimming pool costumes and a French provincial room houses informal sports and country clothes The accessories are carried in an oval room done in a Regency spirit".[46] The individual shipping areas of the store were semi-enclosed which prevented distraction for customers.[42] Williams created an interior reminiscences of his designs for luxurious private residences, with rooms lit by indirect lamps and footlights focused on the clothes.[42] New departments for furs, corsets, gifts and debutante dresses were added in the 1940 expansion.[46] The Terrace Restaurant, a rooftop restaurant run by Perino's, served customers for several years.[42] It was expanded in the 1940s renovations to provide cover during inclement weather.[46]

The store featured in the 2005 film Shopgirl. The story had originally been set in Neiman Marcus but Saks Fifth Avenue lobbied the film makers to portray their store instead.[47][48]



  1. ^ President of Saks Steps Down. The New York Times. Retrieved on April 3, 2015.
  2. ^ Patino, Alexander (October 16, 2014). "Saks Fifth Avenue Opens Its 40th Store in Sarasota, FL". Saks POV. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "International Store Locations". Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  4. ^ Kapner, Suzanne (October 25, 2015). "Lord & Taylor Jumps Into Discount Game". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  5. ^ "Store Locations and Events". Saks Inc. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "About Us". Saks Fifth Avenue. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Block, Maxine; Rothe, Anna Herthe; Candee, Marjorie Dent (1951). Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Co. p. 173.
  8. ^ Zinko, Carolyne (December 4, 2003). "Eileen Denari Ludwig -- S.F. civic leader". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  9. ^ Sherman, Lauren (September 19, 2016). "With Gilt, Hudson's Bay Company Bets Big on Off-Price". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  10. ^ Berner, Robert; Ono, Yumiko (July 6, 1998). "Proffitt's to Acquire Saks Holdings In $2.14 Billion Stock Transaction". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  11. ^ "History of Saks Inc". Funding Universe. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
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  14. ^ Nguyen, Hang (October 13, 2010). "Saks to soon close O.C. department store". The Orange County Register. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  15. ^ Moore, Paula (January 5, 2011). "Saks Fifth Avenue's Denver store to close". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  16. ^ Gough, Paul J. (January 19, 2012). "Saks Fifth Avenue Downtown to close March 17". Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  17. ^ Shropshire, Corilyn (September 13, 2012). "Saks to close after the holidays". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
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  20. ^ Lewis, Michael (July 29, 2013). "Hudson's Bay rolls the dice on Saks". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
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  23. ^ Strauss, Marina (May 11, 2018). "Saks Fifth Avenue set to land in Calgary this month". The Globe and Mail.
  24. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (November 14, 2015). "Saks Is Shaking Off Retail Gloom With a Fifth Avenue Face-Lift". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  25. ^ "Saks Fifth Avenue Signs Lease for a Location in Greenwich, Connecticut" (Press release). Hudson's Bay Company. October 18, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2019 – via Business Wire.
  26. ^ Krasselt, Kaitlyn (October 5, 2015). "Saks signs lease for third Greenwich property". Greenwich Time. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  27. ^ "Saks Fifth Avenue To Relocate Its Flagship Store At The Houston Galleria" (Press release). Simon Property Group. Retrieved December 20, 2019 – via PR Newswire.
  28. ^ "Saks acts as cornerstone of Houston Galleria's $250M transformation". Luxury Daily. February 26, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  29. ^ Staff, F. N.; Staff, F. N. (April 6, 2020). "TJ Maxx, Saks Fifth Avenue, Urban Outfitters + More Retailers Furloughing Workers Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic". Footwear News. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Barbaro, Michael (September 6, 2007). "Saks Settles With S.E.C. on Overpayments". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  31. ^ "Saks Inc. Settles Financial Reporting and Related Charges by SEC" (Press release). Securities and Exchange Commission. September 5, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  32. ^ a b c Steinmetz, Katy (January 12, 2015). "How the Lawsuit Between Saks and a Transgender Employee Might Shake Out". Time. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  33. ^ a b c Hoffman, Meredith (January 13, 2015). "Saks Is Fighting to Discriminate Against a Transgender Ex-Employee". Vice News. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
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  35. ^ a b Zillman, Claire (March 5, 2015). "Saks settles discrimination suit with transgender employee, after sparking outrage". Fortune. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  36. ^ Fung, Esther (November 3, 2017). "Mall Landlord Taubman Sues Saks Fifth Avenue Over Puerto Rico Store". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  37. ^ Diaz, Marian (November 2, 2017). "Propietarios de The Mall of San Juan demandan a Saks Fifth Avenue" [Owners of Mall of San Juan sue Saks Fifth Avenue]. El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  38. ^ "Streetscapes: Saks - the giant leap from Sixth Avenue". The New York Times. April 16, 1995.
  39. ^ "Herald Center, former Saks 34th Street".
  40. ^ "Retailing: Discounter on 34th Street". Time magazine. November 10, 1967.
  41. ^ "This month in real estate history - 1965: Department Store Says Farewell to Herald Square". December 14, 2010.
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  47. ^ Gladys L. Knight (August 11, 2014). Pop Culture Places: An Encyclopedia of Places in American Popular Culture [3 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-313-39883-4.
  48. ^ Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair Publishing Company. 2004. p. 274.

External links