NEW YORK — After 10 months on the job, Ron Frasch has finally been given a title at Saks Fifth Avenue: vice chairman and chief merchant, responsible for the merchandising and planning divisions. The company also said Thursday that Andrew Jennings has been named chief operating officer, while remaining president. Previously, Jennings held the title of president and chief merchandising officer. The reporting structure remains the same. Frasch still reports to Jennings, who continues to report to Fred Wilson, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises. In an exclusive interview, Saks officials said Frasch and Jennings will largely be performing the same functions as before. However, Jennings moves into a broader coordination role, with overall responsibility for merchandising, store operations, marketing and store planning and design for Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as oversight of Saks Direct. The new areas for Jennings are Saks Direct, store planning and design, Wilson said. Meanwhile, Frasch moves deeper into the top merchant’s role. When he was hired by Saks in January, the company said he would be supervising private label and international operations for Saks Inc., the parent of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises and the Saks department store group. It was a peculiar assignment, given Frasch’s career experience in the luxury arena and his links to designers and suppliers in the U.S. and abroad. In earlier posts, he served as chairman and ceo of Bergdorf Goodman, president of GFT USA, president and ceo of Escada USA and senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Neiman Marcus. Around last May, Saks’ gmm’s started reporting to Frasch. However, due to his non-compete agreement with his former employer, Bergdorf parent the Neiman Marcus Group, he was technically not allowed to be heavily involved in the marketplace. With Thursday’s announcement, it appears the restrictions have expired, and the roles Frasch and Jennings play in the organization — and how the two executives interact — is no longer a mystery. “This clarifies Ron’s and Andrew’s roles and responsibilities as we move forward at Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises,” Wilson told WWD. “We run this company as partners.”Prior to joining Saks, Jennings was president and managing director of Holt Renfrew Specialty Store Group, Canada’s leading luxury specialty store chain. Jennings and Frasch are members of the senior executive committee of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises, chaired by Wilson. The other two members are Manny Sousa, executive vice president of human resources, and Donald Watros, executive vice president and chief administrative officer.
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