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Saks Sacks 98 Libby Lu's

Sandra Guy
Chicago Sun-Times
November 6, 2008

Saks will close by May its 78 “tween” stores and 20 shops called Club Libby Lu, a concept that founder Mary Drolet started in Chicago eight years ago.

Saks CEO Steve Sadove described as “innovative” the tween concept, where girls ages 6 to 12 play dressup, have birthday parties, and sprinkle magic fairy dust. But he said it no longer fits with Saks’ focus on its core Saks Fifth Avenue business.

Sadove said Drolet, a long-time Lincoln Park resident, has been “a great partner” and thanked her for her “innovation, creativity and dedication.”

Drolet could not be reached for comment early Wednesday.

Club Libby Lu employs 1,700 at all of its stores, including eight stores in the Chicago area, and has 70 employees in corporate, warehouse and support jobs at 2700 W. Grand Ave. Employees will be offered severance packages.

The local stores are at Fox Valley Center in Aurora; St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights; Gurnee Mills; Oakbrook Center; Orland Square mall; Cherryvale Mall in Rockford; Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, and at the Southlake mall in Schererville, Ind.

Club Libby Lu operates 20 of its locations as shop-in-shops in former Saks-owned department stores Carson Pirie Scott & Co., Belk and Younkers.

The Club Libby Lu business generated $60 million in sales last year. Saks will take an after-tax charge of $11 million in the third quarter and after-tax charges of $18 million to $27 million in the fourth quarter for the closing.

Saks has been selling off its non-core holdings. It sold its northern department store group, including Carson’s, to Bon-Ton Stores for $1.2 billion in March 2006, and sold its Proffitt’s/McRae’s business to Belk for $622 million in May 2005.





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