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Saks Fifth Avenue E-Commerce Business Mulling $6B IPO Months After Hudson's Bay Spun It Off

Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store at 623 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.

The spinoff of Saks Fifth Avenue's e-commerce business seems to be going swimmingly for the new company.

The luxury department store brand's online sales arm, known simply as Saks, is interviewing potential underwriters this week for an initial public offering that could value the company at $6B, The Wall Street Journal reports. Saks spun off from Saks Fifth Avenue's parent, Hudson's Bay Co., earlier this year at a valuation of $2B.

Though the journey from finding an underwriter to actually going public is a multistep process that has no guarantee of being completed, a fairly straightforward timeline would result in the IPO occurring in the first half of 2022, the WSJ reports. The $2B valuation was arrived at when venture capital firm Insight Partners bought a minority stake in Saks over the summer.

The gross merchandise value of Saks Fifth Avenue's online business, a measure of sales, grew 82% from the second quarter of 2019 to the same period this year, the WSJ reports, underscoring the diverging fates of online and in-person shopping, even within the same department store brand. Though Saks is enjoying the improved business, less assured of success is HBC, which still owns the brick-and-mortar Saks Fifth Avenue business and the associated real estate. HBC was taken private in 2020 in a deal that valued the whole company at $1.5B.

One attempt by HBC to drive more revenue to its physical locations just launched in September in two New York Saks stores, including one on the 10th floor of Saks' flagship at 623 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. The concept, called SaksWorks, is a coworking space within the department store, managed by WeWork. Plenty of space is still available at the first two locations, and three more in the New York area are set to open soon, The New York Times reports.

The diverging values of HBC and Saks has led to activist investor Jana Partners agitating for Macy's to spin off its own e-commerce business and capitalize similarly, WSJ reports. Jana, which bought into Macy's earlier this year, wrote a letter to Macy's board claiming that if Macy's e-commerce operations were to stand alone, the unit would be worth multiples of Macy's $7B market capitalization. Macy's was worth $20B as recently as 2015.