Saks Goes Corporate with New Gifts Catalog

Last February, when Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises closed its Folio catalog business, it appeared that the company was trying to get out of mail order. Saks’s existing catalogs served primarily to drive retail and Internet traffic.

But in September, Saks launched another mail order book: Saks Fifth Avenue Corporate Gifts. Products in the catalog range from a $15 silver-plated letter opener to a $1,780 pair of Dunhill stainless-steel watch cufflinks. About 30% of the catalog’s 155 SKUs are not available in Saks stores.

Jacqui Lividini, senior vice president of fashion merchandising, heads up the new business-to-business book, which targets Fortune 500 companies. The New York-based division of Birmingham, AL-based Saks (formerly Proffitts) developed the catalog as an outgrowth of its two-year-old Corporate Alliance program, through which Saks designs shopping events, casual-dress instruction, and similar programs for companies.

Saks initally mailed 75,000 copies of the corporate catalog, to its 250 “member” companies of the alliance as well as to names from other Saks databases and a rental list. Earlier this year, Saks ran catalog request ads in Incentive magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The company also rented booth space at the recent incentive-industry show in Chicago.

Saks is hoping its corporate gift business will grow to $30 million-$50 million during the next five years, Lividini says. “We felt there’s a big opportunity in the $18 billion corporate gift-giving business and that we could certainly gain a significant share of the luxury end of that market.”

But Eric Beder, director of research for New York-based investment bank Ladenburg Thalmann, thinks Saks may be overly optimistic. “Tiffany is the heavyweight in the high-end gift business,” he says, “and Saks will take a part of the market. It’s a great sideline [for Saks], but it won’t drive a significant upside anytime soon.”

The corporate gift catalog will mail again in February, Lividini says, with circulation likely to exceed 200,000. Saks doesn’t plan for a separate corporate gifts Website. Rather, Saks.com will contain a link to the corporate business.

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