Saks expands into China

Luxury retailer Saks Inc. has signed a licensing agreement Tuesday with Roosevelt China Investments Corp. to develop stores in China and Macau. RCIC will own and operate the stores under the franchise agreement, Saks said in a statement. The first store is scheduled to be located in the historic Bund district of downtown Shanghai and is expected to open in 2008.

Saks is one of the first U.S. department stores to lend its name for a venture in China, the world’s most populous nation and the world’s fastest growing economy, with a luxury sector that reportedly may be growing by as much as 60 percent a year. China’s economy, which last year surpassed the U.K. to become the world’s fourth-biggest economy, grew 10.2 percent in the first quarter.

It is the third international venture for the Birmingham, Ala.-based company, with the others being in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“China, with its explosive growth underway, is destined to become the commercial and tourist hub of Asia and is the logical location for our third international licensed Saks Fifth Avenue store,” Stephen I. Sadove, ceo of Saks Inc., said in a statement. “We look forward to working with RCIC to bring a distinctive world-class emporium of luxury brands and experiences to Shanghai and to meeting the fashion lifestyle needs of this very discerning, sophisticated, and important marketplace.”

Sadove added, “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.”

The Saks Fifth Avenue store is expected to be approximately 300,000 square feet and cover four floors, the company said in a statement. The company said the location will be congruent with the Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the United States in both product and service, while being sensitive to local preferences and customs. The Shanghai store will include distinctive offerings from established and emerging Asian, European, and American designers and will present a collection of fine designer apparel, shoes, jewelry, accessories, handbags, fragrances and cosmetics, intimate apparel, bridal, and select gift items. The store will also offer special events, such as fashion shows and personal appearances by designers.