Saks to make Off 5th stores messier

Saks Fifth Avenue is getting a makeover, while its sister outlet Saks Off 5th is getting, well, a "makeunder." Company execs shared a slew of changes that are in store for both brands, including more high-end offerings for Saks and more unkempt stores for Off 5th.

The changes will go into effect now that the chains are owned by Canadian department store company Hudson's Bay. CEO Richard Baker says the inspiration to make the Off 5th stores a little messier comes from the success of Nordstrom Rack, T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, which all provide customers with a "thrill of the chase" shopping environment that's not as buttoned up as Off 5th stores.

"Our outlet stores look too much like department stores," Baker, told The Wall Street Journal. "Nordstrom Rack is a mess, and customers love it."

In addition to disheveling the shelves, Baker says the company plans on opening more Off 5th stores in the coming years, which will eventually bring the store count to more than triple the number of Saks stores. With much of Saks' growth coming from its outlet division, the push aims to give the brand a wider exposure to less affluent shoppers.

While the company plans to rapidly increase the store count of the outlet stores, Saks Fifth Avenue stores will be getting a hefty face lift, too. More than $1 billion has been set aside for upgrades, including more space for handbags and vast new duplex displays, said Baker. The displays are being redesigned to make way for higher-end merchandise, such as a $48,000 Louis Vuitton crocodile handbag, which bears a price tag that's much higher than the typical $2,000 LV bag the chain sells.

Saks currently operates 41 Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the U.S. and plans to add as many as seven in Canada. It has 71 Off 5th stores in the U.S., which Baker said will double in the coming years. Twenty Off 5th stores are also planned for Canada.

For more:
-See this Wall Street Journal article

Related stories:
Saks Fifth Avenue announces its first store location in Canada
Saks shareholders approve merger with Hudson's Bay Company
Saks finally reaches agreement on purchase by Hudson's Bay
Saks will expand to asia and Europe, says Hudson's Bay exec
Saks agrees to Hudson's Bay buyout, no Lord & Taylor merger

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