Saks Fifth Avenue

Last updated

Saks Fifth Avenue
Industry Retail
Founded1867(153 years ago) (1867)
Founder Andrew Saks
Headquarters611 Fifth Avenue, ,
United States
Number of locations
  • 45
Areas served
  • United States
  • Canada
Key people
Marc Metrick (president, 2015)
Footnotes /references
[1] [2] [3] [4]

Saks Fifth Avenue, originally A. Saks & Co., is an American chain of luxury department stores, with its origins in Andrew Saks' A. Saks & Co. store opened in Washington, D.C.'s F Street shopping district in 1867. Saks' flagship store is located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. [5] [6] The 1924 New York store on Fifth Avenue lent its street name to the chain which would be known by what was originally the moniker of its flagship store, Saks Fifth Avenue.


Since 2013, Saks Fifth Avenue has been owned by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), along with HBC's namesake Canadian department stores. Spinoff Saks Off 5th, originally a clearance store for Saks Fifth Avenue, is now a large off-price retailer in its own right managed independently from Saks Fifth Avenue under HBC. [7] [8]


Origins: A. Saks & Co.

Saks and Co.'s new store, Washington D.C. 1887. Demolished. Saks and Co., Washington D.C. 1897.jpg
Saks and Co.’s new store, Washington D.C. 1887. Demolished.
Saks and Co., next to Kann's, NW corner of Pennsylvania and 7th, Washington, D.C., 1920. Demolished. The Equestrian statue of Winfield Scott Hancock in front still exists in what is now the United States Navy Memorial park. Saks and Co., Washington D.C. 1920 01.jpg
Saks and Co., next to Kann's, NW corner of Pennsylvania and 7th, Washington, D.C., 1920. Demolished. The Equestrian statue of Winfield Scott Hancock in front still exists in what is now the United States Navy Memorial park.

Andrew Saks was born to a German Jewish family, in Baltimore. He worked as a peddler and paper boy before moving to Washington, D.C. where at the age of only 20, and in the still-chaotic and tough economic times of 1867, only two years after the United States prevailed in the American Civil War, he established a men's clothing store [9] with his brother Isadore [10] [11] A. Saks & Co. occupied a storefront in the Avenue House Hotel building at 517 (300-308) 7th Street, N.W., in what is still Washington's downtown shopping district. Saks offered his goods at one price only, no bargaining, and offered refunds on merchandise returns, neither of which were the more common practice at that place and time.[ citation needed ] Saks was also known for its "forceful and interesting, but strictly truthful" newspaper advertising, according to the Washington Evening Star , including a two-page spread, large for that time, in that newspaper on April 4, 1898. Saks annexed the store next door, and in 1887 started building a large new store on the site of the old Avenue Hotel Building at 7th and Market Space (now United States Navy Memorial Plaza). [12]

In 1896 Saks opened a branch store in Indianapolis in Ingall's Block, which was a success. then they expanded to Norfolk, Virginia, and by 1897 had six stores: Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia, Indianapolis, and two stores as well as a clothing factory in New York City. Saks called itself "Washington's Wonderful Store". [13]

Saks on Fifth Avenue, New York City

Saks opened a very large store in 1902 in New York City's Herald Square on 34th Street and Broadway. [12] [14] :2 Andrew Saks ran the New York store as a family affair with his brother Isadore, and his sons Horace and William.[ citation needed ] Andrew Saks died in 1912 and his son Horace took over the company's management. [14] :2

In 1923 Saks & Co. merged with Gimbel Brothers, Inc., which was owned by a cousin of Horace Saks, [15] Bernard Gimbel, operating as a separate autonomous subsidiary. On September 15, 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened in the Saks Fifth Avenue Building 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 design derived from classical architecture. [14] :4–5

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. [16] 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. [17]

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. [18] [19]

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. [20]

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". [21] In the following years, the company closed stores in locations including Orange County (2010), [22] Denver (2011), [23] Pittsburgh (2012), [24] Highland Park, Illinois (2012/13) [25] and in June 2013 its last Dallas store to implement the "strategy of employing our resources in our most productive locations". [26]

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. [21] [27]

Under Hudson's Bay Company

2013 present

Interior entrance of the Saks Fifth Avenue store at Toronto Eaton Center in Toronto, Ontario (2016) SaksFifthAvenueToronto.jpg
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), the oldest commercial corporation in North America and owner of the competing chain Lord & Taylor, announced it would acquire Saks Fifth Avenue's parent company for US$2.9 billion. [28] Plans called for up to seven Saks Fifth Avenues to open in major Canadian markets. 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 [29] with a second Toronto area location in the Sherway Gardens shopping center opening in spring 2016. [30] On February 22, 2018, Saks Fifth Avenue opened its third Canadian store in Calgary, Alberta. [31]

In 2015 Saks began a $250 million, three-year restoration of its Fifth Avenue flagship store. [32] In October 2015, Saks announced a new location in Greenwich, Connecticut. [33] [34] In autumn 2015, Saks announced it would replace its existing store at the Houston Galleria with a new store. [35] [36]

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. [37] Saks settled with the SEC in 2007, after firing three or more executives involved in the fraudulent activities. [37] [38]

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)". [39] [40] 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." [39] [40] [41] 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." [42] The Human Rights Campaign removed the company from its list of "allies" during the controversy. [39] [40] [41] The lawsuit was later settled amicably, with undisclosed terms. [42]

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 which 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. [43] [44] 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.[ citation needed ]

Notable locations

Saks34th 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 Fifth Avenue, a location that Saks Fifth Avenue maintains to this day. [45] Saks-34th Street became a part of the New York division of Gimbels (later Manhattan Mall), and a sky bridge across 33rd Street connected the second floors of both flagship buildings. [46] 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. [47] [48] After the demise of the Korvette's chain the building was remodeled into the Herald Center. As of 2016 the primary tenant is H&M. [49]

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. [50] [51] The store opened in 1938. [52] The exterior of the building was designed by the Parkinsons, with the interior completed by Williams in the Hollywood Regency style. [50] 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". [53] The store was expanded and redesigned by Williams in 1940 and 1948. [54] 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. [54]

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". [54] The individual shipping areas of the store were semi-enclosed which prevented distraction for customers. [50] Williams created an interior reminiscences of his designs for luxurious private residences, with rooms lit by indirect lamps and footlights focused on the clothes. [50] New departments for furs, corsets, gifts and debutante dresses were added in the 1940 expansion. [54] The Terrace Restaurant, a rooftop restaurant run by Perino's, served customers for several years. [50] It was expanded in the 1940s renovations to provide cover during inclement weather. [54]

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. [55] [56]

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