By  on August 21, 2006

NEW YORK - Andrew Jennings is out as president of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The company said today that Jennings, who also held the post of chief operating officer and was the number-two executive at the chain after chief executive Steve Sadove, had resigned.

Saks said that it was Jennings’ “personal decision to leave SFAE and return overseas, where he spent the majority of his distinguished 30-year retail career."

Sadove will assume responsibility for the majority of Jennings’ direct reports and the company has no plan to replace Jennings. But Jennings’ departure could pump up the role of Ron Frasch, who is vice chairman and chief merchant.

Jennings joined Saks in February 2004 after serving as president and managing director of Canada’s Holt Renfrew luxury chain, and was recruited by Saks' former ceo Fred Wilson.

Originally, his title was president and chief merchandising officer, but he later shifted to chief operating officer.

Just a month before his appointment, Saks brought Frasch on board, and said Frasch would develop Saks’ international operations and private brands.

Considering Frasch's ties to designers and former role as Bergdorf Goodman ceo, it was a peculiar assignment, and it seemed Frasch was at least as qualified as Jennings to be the chief merchant of a U.S. luxury retailer, but Frasch's hands were tied for some time due to a non-compete agreement he had with his former employee, the Neiman Marcus Group, owner of Bergdorf's.

Since Frasch and Jennings were brought to Saks, there has been speculation about how the two would work together and whether the management team had too many cooks.

For complete coverage, see tomorrow's issue of WWD.

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