Saks Fifth Avenue is laying off an unspecified number of store operations employees, as part of a strategy to streamline and evolve, a company spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
The spokesperson declined to provide where or how many employees and roles would be affected, but said the plan to cut and shift roles predates the pandemic.
The strategy entails a new emphasis on “clienteling” and heightened personalization, which also includes the use of data across channels in services like personal styling, according to a person familiar with the changes, who spoke on condition of anonymity because as a newly private entity, the company no longer publicly discusses its strategy.
After completing its ambitious renovation of its New York City flagship, Hudson's Bay Company-owned Saks Fifth Avenue appears to be turning to an overhaul of its backroom operations, although the company spokesperson said changes have been in the works for a while.
"We have been working to strategically evolve our business for some time," the spokesperson said. "As an independent operating company, we have further evaluated our store functions to ensure we are organized in the most optimal way to serve our customers. With this, we have had to make some role changes and eliminations. While we understand this is a difficult situation for impacted associates, these shifts are necessary to best position our business for the future."
The shift resembles moves at Neiman Marcus, which likewise developed digital personalization to complement in-person styling services and similarly began the process before the pandemic emerged. And like Neiman, which is currently in bankruptcy court, Saks Fifth Avenue has a relatively small footprint, with just 40 North American locations and a handful of overseas stores under license.
HBC has whittled down Saks' full-line footprint somewhat, including two Brookfield Place locations in New York, first its women's store there and a year later the men's store, reserving most closures for its off-price Saks Off 5th banner. Last year the department store conglomerate unloaded Lord & Taylor, which in recent days began shrinking rapidly as part of new owner Le Tote's bankruptcy.
Indeed, HBC has been lavishing attention and money on Saks's Fifth Avenue flagship, which recently completed a $250 million renovation, moving beauty and spa services to the second floor and emphasizing luxury items in its departments. With the hire this year of Nordstrom Rack veteran Paige Thomas, the company took the off-price operations off Saks President Marc Metrick's plate.