NEW YORK — The clothes are on the way out and the furniture’s on the way in.

Saks Inc. plans to shutter its 90,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue store at the Oakbrook Center in Oakbrook, Ill., in late December. Beginning in February, Federated Department Stores’ Bloomingdale’s unit will remodel the location "to create a modern environment offering a complete selection of home merchandise, including tabletop, housewares, rugs, furniture and food, presented in unique lifestyle settings," according to a statement.

The store, set to open next fall, will be the third of its kind, following a similar freestanding home store concept recently opened in Las Vegas and the Medinah store in downtown Chicago bowing in February.

Christina Johnson, Saks Fifth Avenue’s president and chief executive, in a separate statement, noted: "The interests of both our customers and our company are best served by closing our Oakbrook store and concentrating our resources on our other surrounding area locations. This action is consistent with our focus on improving our returns on invested capital."

The approximately 80 employees who staffed the store will be offered transfer opportunities or a post-employment package.

Three Saks stores remain in the Chicago area, including a flagship on Michigan Avenue, as well as Highland Park and Old Orchard locations.

Currently, there are 61 Saks Fifth Avenue stores including the Oakbrook location and a new Las Vegas door opened Friday, which replaced another store. Saks is also planning new stores in the Fashion Mall at Keystone in Indianapolis and at Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond, Va., for fall 2003 as well as at the yet-to-be opened Triangle Town Center in Raleigh, N.C., in fall 2004. Last year, Saks closed locations in Palm Springs, Calif., and White Plains, N.Y.

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