- Pro basketball star James Harden has joined the board of the digital Saks as an independent director after buying a minority stake in the newly formed company, according to a press release.
- In announcing his appointment to the board, Saks said Harden "brings expertise in helping to grow high-potential consumer brands combined with a unique perspective as a notable fashion enthusiast."
- Along with Harden, Saks has recently named as directors Franz-Ferdinand Buerstedde of Rhône Capital, and Deven Parekh and Adam Berger of Insight Partners, the investment firm that struck a deal with Hudson's Bay Co. to spin the digital arm of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store off into its own standalone company.
Months after spinning off from the brick-and-mortar Saks stores, the digital Saks business is taking shape.
After initially eyeing an initial public offering, the Saks.com parent was spun off with Insight's minority investment. The company has since raised new debt capital to help fuel its growth as it and other players, such as MyTheresa and Farfetch, race to be the premier platform online for luxury.
With Harden's appointment, the new digitally-oriented company — confusingly named "Saks" — is already creating an identity for itself that diverges from its staid old brick-and-mortar progenitor.
While Harden might be better known as one of the NBA's most prolific scorers, he is also known as one of the league's most fashionable players when not in uniform. Harden has also been growing his profile as an investor. Along with minority ownership of professional soccer teams, Harden owns stakes in consumer brands Therabody, BodyArmor, Art of Sport, Stance and Pura, where he serves as creative director.
Saks' Executive Chairman, Richard Baker, who also runs Hudson's Bay Co., described Harden as "an important and valuable addition" to the board.
"With experience in growing businesses and as someone who values self-expression through fashion, I am confident that he will bring a distinct point of view that will help us better deliver for our customers," Baker said in the release. For his part, Harden said he intends to have a "direct impact on the company's future success."
As the new company eyes the opportunity in luxury sales online, it has raised new capital to fuel its expansion. Along with new equity investments, it has taken out a $350 million asset-based credit facility and a $115 million term loan to fund growth initiatives.
When it spun off from Hudson's Bay Co., Saks indicated it planned to make investments in styling capabilities and personalization. The company's goal is to build "a hybrid retail and marketplace platform, expanding its assortment while maintaining a curated experience," Saks said in a March press release.