By  on February 22, 1994

NEW YORK -- Saks Fifth Avenue has ended a joint venture with Gordon Henderson, under which the designer set up shop in the store and created an exclusive collection for the chain.

The contract expired on Feb. 1 and was not renewed. Saks did not say why. Henderson could not be reached Friday.

Saks currently has its Henderson collection in its stores for spring. For fall, the chain plans to carry Henderson's merchandise, but no longer on an exclusive basis, according to a Saks spokeswoman. In a statement, Saks noted, "We are looking forward to a continued relationship with Gordon Henderson. He will combine his manufacturing and designer business under his own name and will be a major vendor going forward. Spring receipts have just arrived and look great."

When the venture was announced in November 1992, Saks had high hopes. Chairman and chief executive officer, Philip Miller, said he wanted the project to be long term and expanded to cover many merchandise categories. He also cited the possibility of freestanding Henderson shops.

It was the second report within a week of an unusual designer venture at Saks running out of gas. Last Wednesday, as reported, a spokesman for Carolyne Roehm said she "is taking a respite" from her business at Saks. Roehm had produced a holiday catalog for Saks and had in-store shops in the Fifth Avenue, San Francisco and Palm Beach, Fla., units. Saks said there were no commitments to go forward with Roehm.

Saks, however, has not given up experimenting with new concepts. It still operates A/X Armani Exchange and Nancy Heller shops and reportedly is in talks with Kleinfeld's, the nationally known bridal store in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. Sources said that a leased Kleinfeld's shop could open in the Fifth Avenue flagship within a few months. Saks has dramatically reduced its bridal business, but does sell some wedding gowns. In March 1993, Monica Hickey, a well-known bridal exutive, resigned as the store's director of custom bridal designs. She is now Kleinfeld's director of custom-made gowns and couture.

Michel Zelnik, owner of Kleinfeld's, declined comment.

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