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Marigay McKee doesn’t officially start as president of Saks Fifth Avenue until Jan. 6, but she’s already recruiting talent.
This story first appeared in the December 19, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD has learned that Mark Briggs is coming on board as chief marketing officer, effectively a new position at Saks that will give him broad responsibility for creative, visual merchandising and marketing. He takes over duties previously held by Denise Incandela, former cmo, and Terron Schaefer, former chief creative officer, and has additional responsibilities.
Briggs and McKee are both former executives of Harrods in London, where they worked closely together for about the last 14 years.
Briggs will join Saks in March and report to McKee.
“He is one of the most creative people I have ever met,” McKee told WWD. “He’s exceptionally visual. He has great taste, and more importantly he is a visionary. He puts together amazing collaborations, fantastic visual schemes for the windows, scenes throughout the store, monthly plasma screen strategies, monthly mannequin strategies, promotional sites. The creative strategy, the marketing strategy; it all came from Mark. He made the fantasy happen.”
Briggs has a reputation for drama. In one of his biggest productions, he closed the streets of London to celebrate the Queen’s 60th year on the throne, brought dozens of employees outside to sing a rendition of “God Save the Queen” and had world-famous jewelers including Tiffany and De Beers create versions of the regal headpiece.
Christmastime was also over the top. “Every year there were more reindeers, more snow and more Santas,” McKee said. “His job was the most fun in the company.”
She did emphasize that the new job will pose different challenges for Briggs. Saks is a national chain with flagships and smaller branch stores around the country, whereas Harrods is one giant flagship, with 1 million square feet of space and 72 windows. “It’s wrong to say that we’ll take the formula of the past and bring it here,” McKee said.
Briggs spent 20 years at Harrods as director of store image, setting the strategic brand vision for the company overseeing marketing, communications and visual. Working with McKee and the merchant team, he developed creative campaigns to drive marketing and elevate the store’s image.
Industry sources said Briggs was initially approached by HBC last summer around the time McKee was also contacted.