NEW YORK —?Ron Frasch has been given his spot at Saks Fifth Avenue.
According to sources familiar with the inner workings at Saks, Frasch has become the number two merchant at the store, reporting to Andrew Jennings, president and chief merchandising officer. Frasch will have the five general merchandise managers of the store reporting to him, said one source.
Frasch will be in the markets and attending fashion shows in a role that suits his experience. He’s the former chairman and chief executive of Bergdorf Goodman, and before that, served as president of GFT USA and president and ceo of Escada USA. Prior to that, he spent 10 years at Neiman Marcus, rising to senior vice president and gmm. He also was once a divisional merchandise manager at Saks.
However, last January, when he made the leap to Saks Inc. from Bergdorf’s, he was placed in the peculiar corporate role of developing international operations and private brands. Adding to the mystery, he was never given an official title and still does not have one. It’s believed Frasch will be continuing in some corporate capacity, but his primary work will be with Saks Fifth Avenue and the merchants there. Frasch’s noncompete agreement with the Neiman Marcus Group, parent of Bergdorf’s, has been restricting his activities at Saks, but the restrictions diminish over time.
Saks officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.
As reported, Frasch’s noncompete agreement specifies that for an 18-month period following the end of his employment for any reason, he can’t “associate directly or indirectly as an employee, officer, director, agent, partner, stockholder, owner, representative or consultant with any competitor of Bergdorf, NMG or any of their affiliates, unless BG has approved the association.” He also can’t solicit anyone to stop working for NMG or induce any supplier or vendor to stop selling NMG, according to the agreement.
With Frasch and Jennings now at SFA, there is another layer of management compared with a year ago, considering there’s Fred Wilson, ceo and president of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises, as well as Jennings, the former president of Holt Renfrew, who reports to Wilson. In addition, Wilson reports to Steve Sadove, Saks Inc. vice chairman. SFA Enterprises includes Saks Fifth Avenue, the Off 5th outlets, and the Saks direct businesses.
Saks Fifth Avenue previously operated with two merchandising executive vice presidents — Gail Pisano, who supervised women’s designer merchandise, intimate apparel, accessories, shoes and jewelry, and Wayne Meichner, who supervised men’s wear, cosmetics and women’s ready-to-wear. Pisano left Saks last year and is currently not working at a company. Meichner, who left Saks about two years ago, is currently president of Polo Retail. The gmm’s reported to the executive vice presidents.
Saks’ five gmm’s are Joseph Boitano, designer and home; Jennifer DeWinter, handbags, accessories, shoes, jewelry and intimate apparel; Cody Kondo, men’s wear; William Lynch, women’s rtw, including bridge, contemporary and special sizes, and Deborah Walters, cosmetics.