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NEW YORK CITY-Off Fifth will be the growth vehicle for Saks Inc. for the next year, executives said at the company’s second-quarter conference call.

Plans call for opening three to five new Off Fifth stores a year across the United States in a combination of outlet malls and strip centers, said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and CEO.

“Growing OFF 5TH makes even more sense in this environment, as customers focus on value,” Sadove said. “There is less than 10% overlap between Saks Fifth Avenue and Off Fifth customers, so we are essentially reaching an entirely different customer base with these stores.”

The company has letters of intent for Saks stores in Westchester County, NY, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, but those appear to be less certain.

“We are still doing a lot of due diligence work as related to whether those will occur,” Sadove said. “There are a number of hurdles we still have to get through before they happen.”

Some planned store renovations also have been postponed.

For the quarter, total sales were $561.7 million, down 14.5% from the same quarter last year. Comparable store sales declined 15.5%. The company posted a net loss of $54.5 million, compared with a loss of $32.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

First-half sales were $1.2 billion, down 21.5% from the first six months of 2008. Comparable store sales fell 22.4%. Saks posted a net loss of $59.6 million, vs. a loss of $15.3 million for the same period last year.

Capital expenditures of approximately $9 million for the second half of the year, bringing the full year total to approximately $55 million, a reduction of approximately $75 million from 2008.

The Company currently operates 53 Saks Fifth Avenue stores, 54 OFF 5TH stores, and saks.com.

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