MILAN — Tod’s SpA chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle on Thursday described as strategic the decision to double his stake in Saks Inc. to 5.9 percent.

This story first appeared in the May 29, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As reported, between Feb. 20 and May 7, Della Valle, whose Italian footwear and accessories firm includes Saks as a customer, acquired 8.48 million shares in the U.S. department store chain for $30.3 million.

“It is a strategic investment of the family, not of Tod’s. With the value it had reached, it was a great deal,” Della Valle reportedly told journalists on the sidelines of a conference here, statements later confirmed by his spokeswoman. “They have been our clients for many years and we know them well. The company has great potential.”

He gave no other details.

Della Valle increased the stake in Saks held by his firm Diego Della Valle & C. S.A.P.A. for an average price of $3.57 a share. On Thursday, Saks’ share price fell 27 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $3.83, valuing his holding at $32.5 million.

Last week, Della Valle told Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore that he intended to boost his stake further, without saying by how much. The paper speculated he had options for up to 10 percent of Saks capital.

Della Valle also reportedly intends to present a turnaround plan to Saks management and wants to meet with Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire who owns 18.6 percent of Saks.