Saks Team Takes Shape

Discussion
Feb 11, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Galen Weston, owner of the Holt Renfrew Specialty Store Group in Canada, says his company’s “loss will be Saks Fifth Avenue’s gain.”


Mr. Weston was speaking of the decision by his former managing director at Holt Renfrew, Andrew Jennings, to take the newly created position of chief merchandising officer and
president at Saks.


Mr. Jennings’ move to Saks came as a surprise to some industry observers but his past accomplishments and resume make him seem the ideal fit to re-energize the Saks Fifth Avenue
brand.


According to the Toronto Star, Mr. Jennings was successful in defending Holt Renfrew’s market position and growing the business during a period when more luxury merchants
were entering the market.


Mr. Jennings also received high marks for expanding the store’s shopper base with “hip marketing events” that attracted consumers who were younger than Holt Renfrew’s traditional
customer base.


Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Consulting Group, told Newsday that Mr. Jennings appointment means “Saks is now probably going to see itself a little more
involved in adapting to new ideas, new thoughts and new lifestyles that are more associated with a younger generation than with the more mature group of customers that has traditionally
called Saks Fifth Avenue its home.”


Prior to heading Holt Renfrew, Mr. Jennings worked with Harrod’s in England and Brown Thomas in Ireland.


Moderator’s Comment: What will be the primary challenges faced by Andrew Jennings as
chief merchandising officer and president of Saks?


We agree with Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail: “If customers are going to pay full price, they expect constant innovation in terms of
fashion design and quality, and they expect it presented in an environment that creates an emotional connection between them and the brand.”


Mr. Jennings will be charged with making that connection with consumers. His international background should give him the perspective necessary to create
a different environment for Saks compared to the other luxury competitors. Whether that translates into customer loyalty will be the true test.

George
Anderson – Moderator

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1 Comment on "Saks Team Takes Shape"


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Jen Heup
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Jen Heup
15 years 5 months ago

Being a teenage Saks Fifth Avenue shopper, I completely agree with what Mr. Jennings is doing. His intentions of making the environment of the store have more of an emotional connection with customers and the brands in it are most definitely commendable.

I must disagree, however, with his ideas of associating SAKS with a younger generation. A large appeal to the teenagers that shop at SAKS is the more mature ambiance. I have also noticed that there are some departments in it that are already attracting adolescents. So the need for more is redundant. It is not necessary to, as I feel, “cheapen” that atmosphere with these “hip marketing events” as they are so called. Saks Fifth Avenue is a place of class and sophistication and should stay that way.

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