(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

SHANGHAI-Saks Fifth Avenue is looking to open a store here as well as the Chinese territory of Macau, near Hong Kong. New York City-based Saks Fifth, which is a division of Saks Inc., of Birmingham, AL, is partnering with Roosevelt China Investments Corp. to look for store sites in the two areas.

Saks management expects the first store to open in 2008, in Shanghai’s Bund district, off the Huangpu River. The unit will be 300,000 sf over four floors and will have similar products to the chain’s US department stores.

The China expansion follows a push by Saks in the Middle East, where it opened a store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2001; and a Dubai location in 2004. “While our primary focus remains on our domestic stores, the opening of carefully chosen licensed locations abroad can extend the reach of our brand and generate an incremental income stream for Saks,” says Stephen Sadove, Saks’ chief executive officer, in a statement.

Saks operates 55 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 50 Saks Off 5th outlet stores, 38 Parisian department stores and 57 Club Libby Lu specialty stores. Domestically, Saks executives have announced plans to close three Fifth Avenue stores, in Fort Worth; Mission Viejo, CA; and Palos Verdes, CA, at yet-to-be-determined dates.

In the last year Saks Inc. has been selling off its regional chains. Last month Bon-Ton Stores acquired Saks’ Northern Department Store Group, which consisted 142 units, for about $1.1 billion in cash, giving it mostly Midwestern states under the Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Herberger’s and Younkers names. Last year Saks sold its Southern group, which consists of 25 McRae’s and 22 Proffitt’s stores located throughout 11 states, to Belk, for $622 million. Meanwhile, Saks executives have said they are exploring the sale of the Parisian chain as well.

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