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

BIRMINGHAM, AL-Saks Inc. is selling the 38-unit Parisian department-store chain to Belk Inc. for $285 million. The deal, expected by the management of both companies to close in the third quarter, marks Saks’ departure from owning regional chains as executives aim to concentrate on their flagship Saks Fifth Avenue business.

This is not the first major transaction between locally based Saks and Belk, of Charlotte, NC. In April 2005, Belk Inc. acquired 25 McRae’s and 22 Proffitt’s department stores, all in the Midwest and Southeast, from Saks for $622 million. Upon the completion of the Parisian deal, Belk will operate a total of 315 units.

The Parisian stores are located in nine states and make up about 4.6 million sf. Saks reports that the units generated $723 million in revenues last year. So far this year, Saks officials have announced plans to develop three new Parisian units, in Baton Rouge, LA, Jackson, MS and Montgomery, AL. Executives said in January that they were mulling a sale of the chain.

Other than the pending Parisian transaction and McRae’s and Proffitt’s sales to Belk, Saks also has unloaded its Northern Department Store Group, which consisted of 142 units under the Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Herberger’s and Younkers names to Bon Ton Stores late last year for $1.2 billion. After the Parisian deal closes, Saks will operate 54 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 50 Saks Off 5th outlet unit and Club Libby Lu, a 62-unit specialty store chain targeting tweens. Executives also have said they plan to sell Club Libby Lu.

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