Steven Dennis on Positioning of a Potential Saks/Neiman Marcus Merger

May 23, 2013

Reports this week were that KKR is considering making a bid on Saks with the intention of seeking a merger with Neiman Marcus. A combined Neiman Marcus and Saks would create a retail operator with $7 billion in annual sales, which would put the combined company only behind only Nordstrom in the luxury department store category. Steven Dennis, founder of retail consulting firm SageBerry and a former Neiman Marcus executive, was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post about the proposed merger. He believes there is an “overcapacity” in the luxury retail space and by merging and controlling two key retail brands, the companies would be able to lower competition, leading to higher margins. A concern he has is brand management. Both Saks and Neiman Marcus are old brands that high-income consumers easily recognize; killing off one of the brands in the event of a merger likely isn’t an option, said Dennis, even though they’re positioned “virtually identically” in terms of merchandise and consumer perception. “Shutting one down seems crazy, so the challenge would be to reposition one to maximize the market opportunity,” he said. “Not an easy task.” To read yesterday’s full Huffington Post article to see Steven’s full interview please visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/saks-neiman-merger_n_3322392.html.

Steven Dennis is President and Founder of SageBerry Consulting, LLC since November 2008, a boutique consulting firm specializing in growth and marketing strategy for retail, luxury, and fashion brands. Additionally, Mr. Dennis is Executive in Residence, JC Penney Center for Retail Excellence with SMU Cox School of Business. Prior to SageBerry, Mr. Dennis was Senior Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for The Neiman Marcus Group where he was responsible for strategic business development and corporate marketing (customer insight, enterprise marketing programs, and loyalty program strategy), and led the company’s partnership to operate its credit card business. Prior to joining Neiman’s, he was with Sears in a number of senior leadership roles including, Acting Chief Strategy Officer and Leader of the Lands’ End Integration Team. Mr. Dennis’s expertise spans all major retail and e-commerce product categories and formats. He has extensive experience in leveraging consumer insight to drive growth initiatives through organic growth, new concept development, and acquisitions.

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