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NEW YORK CITY-As it continues with its transformation and turnaround, Saks Inc. may boost the growth of its Off 5th division as well as renovate existing stores, executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call. Macroeconomic trends have squeezed the bridge customer, but luxury and outlet shoppers remain solid, as shown by the strength of renovated Saks units and Off 5th stores, said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and CEO.

“A year ago, this was a holding company that was Birmingham, AL-based,” Sadove said. “We’ve downsized, reduced IT roughly by half, moved the headquarters to New York, and done it without a hiccup.”

Recently renovated Saks units, including South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA), Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, and sections of the flagship New York City store have performed strongly by focusing on designer brands, Sadove said. Meanwhile, Off Fifth units have shifted their focus from selling off older goods to become an independent, viable distribution channel. “This allows opportunity for growth in both same-store [sales] and geographically,” Sadove said.

Corporate total sales were $796.1 million, up 14.1% from the previous year. Comparable store sales increased 11.4%. Saks recorded net income of $21.6 million, compared with $6.2 million for the third quarter of 2006. Saks operates 54 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 49 Saks Off 5th stores, and saks.com, as well as Club Libby Lu specialty stores.

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