By: Aliza Leichter  | 

Shopping in the Office

Luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue, owned by Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), collaborated with coworking real estate company WeWork in their most recent venture: SaksWorks. 

Slated to launch in September 2021, the joint venture will transform Saks locations across the New York tri-state area into shared workspaces for suburban part time and full time employees working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. HBC’s statement announced plans to expand locations across North America following the opening of SaksWorks’ inaugural locations. An all-access pass with a $299 monthly membership fee will allow both SaksWorks and WeWork members to visit urban and suburban workspaces. In a mutually beneficial deal for both companies, the locations will be managed and staffed by WeWork; in exchange, HBC will not charge rent and WeWork receives a cut of the revenue. 

Similar to women-focused coworking club The Wing, SaksWorks locations will include amenities designed to incentivize membership. While The Wing’s Bryant Park location in New York City has its own in-house cafe and bar, the Perch, and select locations feature childcare spaces and babysitting services, SaksWorks will have recreational options such as retail, fitness studios and event programming. HBC’s executive chairman and CEO, Richard Baker, leveraged Saks Fifth Avenue’s legacy by affirming the department store’s commitment to “elevated and highly personalized service,” and noting that SaksWorks would extend the company’s nearly century-long legacy. 

The rise of ecommerce amidst the pandemic permanently altered the retail landscape. Over 12,000 stores were forced to close after being deemed non-essential and shuttered for weeks. According to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 630 retailers declared bankruptcy in 2020, the highest number recorded in a decade. Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom are some of the retailers who permanently closed their stores after clothing sales plunged by 89 percent; in contrast, online sales increased about 21 percent. 

Commenting on the partnership, SaksWorks President Amy Nelson, founder and former CEO of women’s network and startup The Riveter, stated that the goal is to “broaden our offerings to redefine the idea of the classic rec center into modern community hubs.” Although capitalizing on the remaining Saks Fifth Avenue square footage allows the retailer to remain temporarily profitable, it is unclear whether the department store’s success will be based entirely on an employee’s decision to continue to work remotely. 

Photo caption: WeWork Sign

Photo Credit: Pixabay