By  on April 30, 2007

NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue has opened the next-generation Zegna shop, which completes the "holy trinity"—Zegna, Armani and Polo—on the sixth floor of its Fifth Avenue flagship.

Cody Kondo, senior vice-president and GMM of men's for the upscale retailer, said the 2,800-square-foot shop is "the largest footprint in the U.S. for Zegna," outside of its own stores. This fall, Zegna will open a new Peter Marino-designed flagship store in New York; another is slated for Milan.

"This represents the latest concept for Zegna," Kondo added, noting that he worked closely with the Zegna family and the company's U.S. team on the design of the shop. "It's a real power shop, presents a strong message and really shows our belief in the brand. It's a customer's and a seller's dream."

The shop offers the "world of Zegna" and includes the sartorial collection, furnishings, sportswear, the Zegna Sport line, accessories and footwear. "There's a real density of product," he said. The company's Z Zegna collection has its own shop on Saks' seventh floor, which focuses on more-contemporary merchandise. "Z Zegna is younger in spirit and we didn't want to dilute it," Kondo said.

The sixth floor shop also has the "first dedicated, made-to-measure room," three-way mirrors and 12 associates working within the boutique. "We're really excited about the project," Kondo said.

The opening of the Zegna shop"is a continuation of our sixth and seventh floor remodeling efforts," he explained. "It completes the entrance to the sixth floor. We opened a Polo shop last fall and Armani a year before, so now we have the holy trinity." These brands "make a strong, authoritative statement." A new Brioni shop opened about a month ago and a revamped Canali shop is on tap for this fall. Hugo Boss will also be redone.

Kondo said it's been eight years since Zegna had a new home at Saks. "We expanded the shop over the years, but the business and space really deserved to be refreshed," he said.

A similar Zegna boutique will open at the Chicago store this fall, and "we're working on adding it [the new shop concept] to other doors through 2008," he said. "It's an ongoing project for us."

Kondo said the men's business at Saks is doing well and "it encourages us to do more."

Last fall, Saks completed phase two of its men's floor renovation that saw traditional vendors clustered on the sixth floor and more-contemporary merchandise on the seventh.

After a year of repositioning, downsizing and merchandising shifts, Saks Fifth Avenue is showing some progress. Last month it reported net income for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3 increased to $21.5 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with a loss of $2.2 million, or 2 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Fourth-quarter sales rose almost 17 percent, to $955 million from $817.8 million.

For the year, net income (after discontinued operations) totaled $21.5 million, versus $22.3 million a year ago. However, the decline stemmed from a host of non-recurring issues, including asset dispositions, corporate downsizing, retention and severance costs, and legal expenses. Saks Inc. last year sold Parisian and the northern department store group, and now operates the 54-unit Saks Fifth Avenue chain, Off 5th outlets, Saks Direct and Club Libby Lu.

Total sales for the year rose 5.8 percent, to $2.94 billion from $2.78 billion.

The company is projecting low-double-digit growth for the first half of the year and mid- to high-single-digit growth in the fall.

Kondo said: "It's a good time to be at Saks."

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