The decidedly upper-tier Saks Fifth Avenue store at WestShore Plaza will close May 4, and will be replaced by a Dick's Sporting Goods supercenter, set to open sometime in 2014.
Saks officials made no hint that they plan to move to a new location in the area, though the company has been named as a likely tenant for an outlet mall location, should one be built in Pasco County.
“These decisions are always difficult,” Steve Sadove, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks, said in a statement." We are extremely appreciative of our Tampa store associates, several of whom have worked with us for many years. We are committed to giving our associates needed assistance during this period.”
Sadove said the closure matched their strategy of focusing resources on “our most productive Saks Fifth Avenue stores.”
Though Saks had a lease on the space in WestShore through 2018, retail circles have been abuzz about whether the decidedly upscale Saks would move out of the mid-tier shopping mall after the more upper-tier International Plaza mall opened in 2001.
Approximately 105 associates are employed in the Tampa store. All affected full-time and part-time associates either will be offered transfer opportunities or will receive appropriate employment separation packages, the company said.
Meanwhile, Dick's announced plans to open their store in the former Saks location in 2014, which follows a strategy to expand across the nation. Dick's now has four locations in the region: Brandon, Citrus Park, Clearwater and Wesley Chapel.
Nationally, Dick's is adding new stores, many with featuring firearm supercenters for hunting and self-protection guns. Dick's officials were not available for comment on their specific plans for Tampa.
Dick's opened 21 sporting goods stores in its third quarter of last year alone, brining its total to 511 stores in 44 states, with approximately 27.9 million square feet of space.
In Tampa, Dick's will have competition very close, and from across town.
Just a few dozen yards to the south of WestShore Plaza is a large Sports Authority location on Kennedy Boulevard. At the same time, BassPro Shops is building a mega sporting goods and outdoor center in Brandon that will include a large sporting goods inventory, and likely ponds for fishing boat demonstrations, a restaurant and bowling alley.
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