BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Saks Inc. said it will centralize the cosmetics buying for its 240-unit department store group, to save money through job cuts and to develop stronger relationships with vendors and more differentiated products.

In its announcement Friday, the company said expense savings and one-time charges from the centralization are not expected to be material.

“We’re eliminating about 20 positions, from a total of 46,” said George Jones, president and chief executive officer of the Saks department store group, in an interview. “We are quite optimistic we are going to be able to place most of these people, but cost savings are not the primary reason in my mind for the consolidation. The primary reason is that we believe this is the right way to run the business. The [remaining] jobs will be more significant. We will leverage the talent, and we will talk with one voice to our vendors. We think it strengthens our partnerships. Cosmetics is an extremely important business.”

Jones also said that the consolidation will provide the department stores with “the appropriate structure to accelerate our sales growth.”

Currently, the cosmetics buying happens at three locations: Milwaukee, where there are 18 people on staff working for the Carson Pirie Scott, Boston Store, Bergner’s, Younkers and Herberger’s chains; Alcoa, Tenn., where there are 13 cosmetics employees working for Proffitt’s and McRae’s, and Birmingham, where there are 15 working for Parisian. The functions will be consolidated into the Saks department store group’s Birmingham headquarters by the end of September.

Mark Fedyk, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics and shoes at Proffitt’s/McRae’s, has been promoted to senior vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics for the group. He will be based in Birmingham and will report to Jones.

Asked if other product divisions besides cosmetics also could be consolidated, Jones replied, “No. We don’t have any plans for any other consolidations right now.”

Saks Inc. also operates 62 Saks Fifth Avenue stores and 54 Saks Off 5th outlets. — David Moin

Brosius Branches OutNEW YORK — There’s perhaps more change than fragrance in the air at Demeter these days.

Founder Christopher Brosius has ceased his duties as vice president and creative director for the brand, but will continue to do fragrance and product development. “There are a lot of things I want to say with perfume and do with perfume that don’t fit into that package any longer,” said Brosius. And the perfumer has wasted little time expanding his horizons. Brosius has already unveiled his newest venture: the Christopher Brosius Studio and Perfume Gallery in the trendy Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Located in a former garage — now a stark, white space with lacquered cement flooring and exposed beams — on Wythe Avenue, the space provides an outlet for Brosius’ vision and a retail venue. “There are so many great galleries and shops around here,” said Brosius. “I thought it might be cool to do a gallery/design space exploring what perfume is and what it can be.” The 250-square-foot ground-floor gallery showcases 14 fragrance series created by Brosius, from a series called Dirt, which includes fragrances like Mushroom, White Truffle and Vetiver to the Unnaturals, which includes fragrances like Coppertone and Rubber. Inspirational quotes from notables like E.B. White, Groucho Marx and Shakespeare hang above each collection.

Along with offering custom-blended perfumes for individual clients, Brosius will help customers choose a wardrobe of scents best suited to their preferences from the Perfume Gallery. Prices range from $25 for a 15-ml. CB Single Note Custom Scent to up to $350 for a CB Custom Perfume, or a so-called Level Two initial consultation. Custom perfumes can run up to $5,000 for an extremely complex blend, according to Brosius. Brosius said he will be working with perfume absolutes and oils only, in lieu of alcohol.

In addition to the new Studio and Perfume Gallery, Brosius has created a collection of finished perfumes inspired by art, history, dance, literature and poetry. The first is called Metamorphosis and is inspired by Persephone from Greek mythology. The perfumer is also working on a range of fragrances for dogs and a book that is illustrated by scent, which is tentatively slated for release in fall 2005. — Bryn Kenny

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