By  on March 30, 1994

NEW YORK -- Saks Fifth Avenue said Tuesday it will close branches in La Jolla and Mission Valley, Calif., next month as part of a continuing reevaluation.

"We have been examining the lack of productivity in those stores for more than a year and decided to take action about two weeks ago," said Philip Miller, chairman and chief executive officer.

The stores will close April 23 and the Mission Valley unit will reopen April 27 for a clearance sale. It will close for good July 9.

Although Saks closed a branch in Palo Alto in February and never reopened its Woodland Hills unit in Los Angeles after it was devastated by the Jan. 17 earthquake, Miller said the chain has no intention of abandoning the state.

"We are definitely not pulling out of California and want to look for another location in the San Diego market," he said.

The 76,750-square-foot Mission Valley store employs 118 people, and the La Jolla unit, 29,300 square feet, employs 54. Miller said the workers are being offered other positions within the chain, but because there are no Saks stores nearby, he said it was doubtful that many would relocate to other branches.

Miller said the company has spent more than $25 million in renovation and expansion of its Beverly Hills and San Francisco units. The shutting of the La Jolla and Mission Valley units will leave Saks with five stores in the state. Miller said there are no other stores on the chopping block at this point, but would not rule out other closings.

In Houston, the company is examining alternatives to the branch in The Pavilion center, but has made no specific plans.

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