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Saks Fifth Avenue Shifts Top Executives

Saks Fifth Avenue on Thursday unveiled a string of senior-level management changes, triggered by the departure of Carolyn Biggs, executive vice president of...

Saks Fifth Avenue on Thursday unveiled a string of senior-level management changes, triggered by the departure of Carolyn Biggs, executive vice president of stores and a 15-year veteran of the store. She will retire on Jan. 31.

This story first appeared in the June 13, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Moving into Biggs’ slot will be Jennifer de Winter, group senior vice president and general merchandise manager of jewelry, shoes, handbags and soft accessories.

Succeeding de Winter is Cody Kondo, currently senior vice president and gmm for men’s wear, home, food and gifts.

Tom Ott, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s tailored clothing and personal furnishings, will replace Kondo as senior vice president.

“These leadership changes demonstrate our commitment to developing and promoting our internal talent to fill key roles across the organization, enabling us to capitalize on the strengths of our management team and continue our momentum at Saks Fifth Avenue,” said Saks Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Stephen I. Sadove.

Biggs, he added, “has been a driver of clienteling and store environment improvements that have enhanced store productivity and profitability” and will work on special projects in her remaining months at Saks.

He characterized de Winter as “an experienced leader with a proven reputation for collaborating and driving innovation and results. She and her team led the 10022-SHOE initiative and drove outsized growth in women’s shoes, accessories and jewelry during the last two years.”

Kondo has provided “outstanding strategic direction” and has been instrumental in improving the men’s offerings, while Ott has played “a pivotal role in the growth and transformation of our men’s tailored clothing business.” He also implemented initiatives to drive the gifts and home businesses, Sadove said.

The changes are effective Monday.

Separately, Icelandic investment firm Baugur Group extended the contracts it purchased last July giving it the right to purchase 12.2 million shares of Saks stock for prices ranging from $12 to $23 a share, according to a filing on Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The high end of the forward-price range suggested to some that Baugur could be looking to make a bid down the road at what could be a high premium depending on when the bid is made and Saks’ stock price at the time. Baugur has 8.5 percent of Saks shares, and Landmark, with whom Baugur had has conversations regarding a bid for the retailer, has 1.2 percent, or nearly 1.7 million shares. The filing said the two could be deemed a “group” and together own 9.7 percent of Saks’ shares.

On Thursday, Saks’ shares closed $11.99, up 28 cents, or 2.4 percent, in New York Stock Exchange trading.