updated 10/1/2004 3:51:56 PM ET 2004-10-01T19:51:56

Saks Inc. said Friday it would close 11 underperforming stores in seven states, affecting 700 workers.

The Birmingham-based chain, with nearly 390 stores nationwide, said it would close eight Saks Fifth Avenue stores and three Off 5th stores. Workers will be offered transfers or severance packages, the company said.

CEO Fred Wilson said the stores make up about 7 percent of the company's square footage but less than 4 percent of its revenues.

"These actions will permit our team to focus capital, inventory, and other resources on our most productive units and will further strengthen our brand," he said in a statement.

Saks Fifth Avenue stores will be closed in Carmel, Calif.; La Jolla, Calif.; Pasadena, Calif.; Mission Viejo, Calif., Palos Verdes, Calif.; Garden City, N.Y., and Fort Worth, Texas. A Saks Fifth Avenue will be closed and converted into an Off 5th store in Hilton Head, S.C.

Off 5th stores will be closed in Worcester, Mass.; Grove City, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn.

"While this is a good business decision, it was certainly a difficult one to make," Wilson said.

In late afternoon trading Friday, Saks shares were up 13 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $12.18 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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