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Digital Mojo Sparks IPO Chatter Around Saks.com

Just how successful was Saks’ online operation during the Covid pandemic?

Apparently successful enough The Hudson’s Bay Co. is seriously considering spinning off the dot-com side of  Saks Fifth Avenue through an initial public offering.

Saks CEO Mark Metrick has said that “luxury retail was primed for disruption” going into the coronavirus crisis, referring to the pandemic as an accelerant for rapid change in the high-end space, both digitally and in stores.

Saks, for its part, slammed the gas pedal on clienteling, tweaking store layouts and enhancing private shopping services. Store associates have been handed more digital tools, helping 3,000 associates—down from 4,000 before the pandemic—generate almost $150 million in sales last year, even as stores spent months offline.

A pre-Covid website revamp helped Saks reposition men’s fashion offerings.

Metrick spoke in December at the WWD Virtual Apparel and Retail Summit about how well Saks Fifth Avenue was able to navigate the pandemic.

On Thursday, WWD first reported that Hudson’s Bay was meeting with investors about the possible spinoff. Metrick might be chosen to head up the public firm when the IPO is completed, it reported, noting that Saks is likely to elect an initial private placement and use that valuation as the base calculation for a potential IPO. With the dot-com and brick-and-mortar operations split, the two businesses would also enter into an arrangement including shared services that would allow them to seamlessly operate as if they were still one unified company.

A spokesman for Hudson’s Bay did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It might be a good time to consider an initial public offering, given the success of the IPOs of Poshmark and Mytheresa.com. Also getting ready to hit the public markets on the London Stock Exchange is British footwear brand Dr. Martens.