Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue is on track to make an initial public stock offering in 1996 or 1997, a spokesman for its parent company, Investcorp, told WWD.
“The IPO is still on the same course it’s always been on,” he said. “Things are going well.”
In June 1992, Saks’ chief executive officer Philip Miller said an IPO was three to five years away.
Gar Bewkes, a member of Investcorp’s management committee, said Friday he doesn’t expect the IPO timetable “to change or come sooner, but it depends on the state of the market.
“Obviously, the IPO market isn’t as strong as it was a while back,” he added, “and our timing would be based on what’s most advantageous to our equity investors and the company.”
Asked about Saks’ financial performance in 1994, Bewkes said, “We’re having a very strong year,” but he declined to offer any figures. He responded to a question about the privately held retailer’s rate of sales growth by contending that “Saks is outperforming the industry.”
Both Bewkes and Miller strongly denied persistent talk that Investcorp has spoken with former Macy’s president Roger N. Farah about a possible post at Saks, and that Miller could be on his way out.
Acknowledging he’s still hearing the rumors himself, Bewkes said, “Investcorp has had no formal or informal conversations with Mr. Farah or anyone else about coming to Saks. We are extremely pleased with Saks’ senior management and the performance of the company over the past year.”
Informed of talk he has assembled a leveraged buyout group to consider purchasing Dayton Hudson’s department stores, with a special eye on his former home, Marshall Field’s, Miller declared, “Saks is my home. I’m not going anywhere.”
The Saks ceo also said Dayton Hudson would probably have to sell its Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s chains as a package because the retailer has consolidated their infrastructure to the point where none could stand alone.
Thus, reasoned Miller, a purchaser of just one of the operations would have to put lots of money into that chain to rebuild its support structure.
Despite reported interest on the part of several suitors, retail analysts noted Dayton Hudson may not be in any rush to unload its department store business — barring an offer it couldn’t refuse — since the Minneapolis-based retailer is in the throes of trying to reverse the fortunes of its struggling Mervyn’s operation.
An analyst who asked not to be named said, “If they unload the department stores and don’t turn around Mervyn’s, it can hurt them. If they wait a while and they don’t turn Mervyn’s, they can unload that chain and keep the department stores, which are making money.
“Dayton Hudson should just change the name of the company to Target,” the analyst added, alluding to the company’s primary focus on its discount store chain. “They’ve got a department store product they don’t ultimately want, but one that continues to produce stable results over time.”
— Fairchild News Service

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