January 29, 2013

Belk in, Saks out at Dallas Galleria

Belk will join Nordstrom and Macy's as department store anchors in spring 2014.

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Southern charm is replacing New York chic in Dallas as Belk, a 125-year-old department store chain, will take over Saks Fifth Avenue's entire 170,000-square-foot space in the Galleria.

Belk, based in Charlotte, N.C., will join Nordstrom and Macy's as traditional department store anchors in spring 2014. Galleria also considers a unique Gap-Banana Republic-Old Navy combination (in a previous Saks location) to be the center's fourth anchor.

The Galleria said Saks, one of its original tenants in 1982, will close its doors June 15. Construction on Belk's larger "flagship" format begins in July. Most Belk stores are 60,000 to 100,000 square feet.

Belk, which entered the Texas market with a smaller-format store in Paris in the 1980s, now has 13 locations, including at Alliance Town Center near Heritage Trace Parkway and Interstate 35W in far north Fort Worth. It also plans to open in New Braunfels next year.

"We are proud to join the Galleria Dallas' list of premium retailers, and we look forward to bringing top brands, the best in service and a deep commitment to this community -- all with our modern, Southern style," said Tim Belk, the chairman and CEO and grandson of the chain's founder.

"Texas has been a very strong market for us, and we see great opportunities for growth in the state," Belk said in a news release.

Belk and Galleria Dallas plan to jointly invest $20 million in the project, the news release said. Architectural plans are being developed. But a spokeswoman said there will be no additions to the Saks space.

The move into Dallas is part of what Belk called a three-year, $600 million investment in the brand, the news release said. The store will join a few other flagship Belk stores, including ones in Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta. The concept is described as bringing a "unique and exciting collection of upscale, premium brands and services to North Texas shoppers."

The Saks closing is part of a strategy to remove underperforming stores, Steve Sadove, Saks chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

While leaving one of North Texas' most coveted shopping areas, Saks said it will maintain its discount concept, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, at Grapevine Mills, Grand Prairie Premium Outlets and the Shops at Park Lane in Dallas.

The staff of about 120 at the Galleria store will be offered transfer opportunities or "appropriate" severance packages.

"These store closing decisions are always difficult," Sadove said. "We are extremely appreciative of our associates in the Dallas store, several of whom have been with Saks for many years. We are committed to providing our associates with needed assistance during this period."

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

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