July 7, 2011
Department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is expanding its brand and stirring global brand awareness in emerging markets by building a store in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The retailer announced July 5 that plans have been finalized for the brand’s first venture into Asia. The new location is slated to open in August 2012.
“Saks looks for international opportunities in emerging markets where luxury is underrepresented,” said Julia Bentley, senior vice president of investor relations and communications for Saks Fifth Avenue, New York.
“Kazakhstan is an emerging market with a growing, affluent population that is also a tourist destination,” she said.
The Almaty Saks will offer many of the same products and services as the United States locations, while keeping in mind local culture and preferences.
To truly stay within the bounds of cultural norms in Kazakhstan, the store has licensed VILED group to oversee the new location and marketing efforts.
"Our marketing campaign will be focused on showing the extended assortment of brands and the services available at Saks Fifth Avenue for these local customers," said Andrey Kopytin, business development director of VILED.
"Since Saks Fifth Avenue will be the first department store in the region we expect to have a lot of media attention from both business and fashion press," he said.
VILED is responsible for 15 luxury stores in Kazakhstan and is the exclusive retailer for brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Harry Winston.
The Kazakhstan location will be approximately 91,000 square feet and three stories tall.
An outside wall of the building will feature a three-story digital video screen that consumers will presumably see from the surrounding Esentai park.
The store will offer designer apparel, shoes, jewelry, accessories, handbags, fragrances, cosmetics, intimate apparel and children’s clothing.
Also, the Kazakhstan store will have a division of the Fifth Avenue Club personal shopping service.
Saks Fifth Avenue has six additional licensed stores worldwide in Mexico City, Mexico; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Dubai, UAE; and Manama, Bahrain.
The newest location is a prime spot for Saks in its search for globalization as the emerging Asian market continues to grow.
Kazakhstan is oil-rich, which has led to rapid development of its luxury market in the past year.
For instance, diamond jeweler De Beers opened a store in the former capital Almaty on July 6.
The Saks store will be the anchor of the Esentai Shopping Mall, a huge development project underway that will host many other luxury fashion and jewelry stores, restaurants and a JW Marriot Hotel.
“International expansion is not a core strategy for Saks Fifth Avenue, but can provide an incremental income stream and increase brand awareness,” Ms. Bentley said.
“In order to open an international location, we must have the right location, the right local license partner, and secure access to the right brands,” she said.
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York