Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury American specialty store owned and operated by Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises (SFAE), a subsidiary of Saks Incorporated. It competes in the high-end specialty store market in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, i.e. 'the 3 B's' Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, and Bloomingdales. The company headquarters and the company-designated flagship store are in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises (SFAE) consists of 54 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 48 Saks Off 5th stores, and saks.com.
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. Andrew died in 1912 and in 1923 Saks & Co. merged with Gimbel Brothers, Inc., operating as a separate autonomous subsidiary. On September 15, 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.
When Bernard's cousin Adam Gimbel became President of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1926 after Bernard's sudden passing, the company took on national aspirations. The very first branch store opened in 1926 in the city of Palm Beach, Florida as a resort store, followed by a Southampton resort store in 1928. The first full-line year-round Saks store was 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, Mount Stowe and Newport. More full-line stores followed with Detroit in 1940 and Pittsburgh 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. More expansion followed from the 1960s through the 1990s including Texas, the Midwest, and the South.
BATUS Inc. acquired Gimbel Bros., Inc. and its Saks Fifth Avenue subsidiary in 1973 as part of its diversification strategy. In 1990, BATUS sold Saks to Investcorp S.A., which after investing in the company and weathering the early 1990s recession took Saks public in 1996 as Saks Holdings, Inc. In 1998, Saks Holdings Inc. was acquired by Proffitt's, Inc., then the parent company of Proffitt's among other department stores. Upon closing of the acquisition, Proffitt's, Inc. changed its name to Saks Incorporated.
In 2005 vendors filed against Saks alleging unlawful chargebacks. The SEC formally investigated the complaint and Saks settled with the SEC in 2007.
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