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Saks Fifth Avenue is about to be unrecognizable. The department store unveiled the flagship's grand renovation plans to WWD, which involves a shakeup on nearly each of its eleven floors. But don't say the word "renovation" in front of execs: "We do not look at this as a renovation. This is a reinvention. A reimagination, and a redevelopment," Saks president Marc Metrick told the paper. Another word he used: "de-departmentalization."
611 Fifth Avenue clocks in at nearly 650,000 square feet and brought in $700 million in sales last year — that's part of why the property was recently valued at $3.7 billion. But despite those stellar sales figures, Metrick wants to make sure that they don't lose business to the internet with a brick-and-mortar store that's stuck in the past. "You are coming up on 100 years for this store. It's old, and when it was developed, the customer shopped differently," he said.
"One of our biggest challenges we face is, how do we make these stores exciting?" he continued. "How do you make it an experience, so when a customer wants something they don't want to just pop on their phone and buy it. Especially with luxury...you have to have an environment that matches that. It can't be just a place to get stuff."
Below, a bottom-to-top breakdown of what'll be happening on each floor:
The concourse level (below ground) will house precious and fine jewelry and watches, and will be known as The Vault.
The first floor will concentrate on handbags, leather goods, and accessories — we first heard about this more than a year ago — which will allow 60 percent more space for these categories.
In an uncharacteristic move for a department store, everything beauty will be on the second floor, allowing this category to expand its footprint by 53 percent. According to Metrick, it'll be "all about the romance, the intimacy, and the femininity of the experience" of buying beauty products.
There will be a bit of jewelry on this floor as well. The first and second floors will be connected by a glass elevator with a wraparound spiral staircase, as well as an escalator, right in the middle of the floor. According to chief merchant Kerry Mader, "It's going to be an architectural beacon."
The third, fourth, and fifth floors will be dedicated to womenswear (so it'll be consolidated from four floors to three). And rather than being divided up by price point, as most traditional department stores do, Saks will be mixing up: "There will be designer on every ready-to-wear floor," Metrick explained. The fifth floor, for example, will have both advanced designer and contemporary collections, encouraging shoppers to go high-low when putting together a look.
The sixth and the seventh floors will remain the home of menswear, but expect merchandise to be divided up by "lifestyle" rather that designer.
The eighth floor will still be all about 10022-Shoe, Saks' footwear department (its branding has been so successful that a standalone shoe store is coming to Greenwich, Connecticut), but now even more so: In-store restaurant Cafe SFA is moving to the ninth floor, so concept shops will be added around the perimeter of the floor.
A "champagne bar" connected to a patio that overlooks Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral will be on this floor as well — Metrick refers to this as using the "hidden assets" of this location. "Where we can we are activating our views, which no one can mimic. People can put Champagne on their footwear floors, but they can't put up a balcony outside on Fifth Avenue and look at Rock Center."
On nine, Cafe SFA will be rebranded and managed by a third party — perhaps as an effort to enhance the department store restaurant experience. A separate staircase will connect the champagne bar and the restaurant. The ninth floor will remain the home of intimates, and a new destination for eveningwear — gowns, handbags, and footwear — will be called "The Ballroom."
The bridal salon will also be part of this 8,000-square foot area. And finally, on the tenth floor, John Barrett will open his first salon within a Saks department store (the hair maven is already a fixture at Bergdorf's). It's the beginning of a partnership that'll allow for other salons across Saks stores.
You've got a while to digest all these changes: Renovations aren't expected to be complete until mid-2018, well after Saks has opened its Financial District store.