Saks Fifth Avenue Files Lawsuit Against Bal Harbour Shops for Breach of Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Business Defamation

Bal Harbour disclosed confidential information and made public defamatory statements in an apparent effort to coerce Saks Fifth Avenue to settle a disagreement about lease payments during the ongoing pandemic

NEW YORK – Saks Fifth Avenue today filed a lawsuit against Bal Harbour Shops (“Bal Harbour”) and Matthew Whitman Lazenby, President and Chief Executive Officer of Whitman Family Development, LLC, owner of Bal Harbour, in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida following statements made by Mr. Lazenby that breached the parties’ contract and Bal Harbour’s fiduciary duty. The suit asserts that in an effort to increase pressure on Saks Fifth Avenue to resolve a dispute related to lease payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Lazenby disclosed confidential information provided by Saks Fifth Avenue to Bal Harbour in accordance with its lease agreement. The suit also states that Bal Harbour and Mr. Lazenby caused damage to Saks Fifth Avenue’s business and reputation by making public defamatory statements to the media that omitted facts relating to the dispute.

Ian Putnam, President & CEO, HBC Properties and Investments, HBC L.P.’s real estate operating company, said, “We are disappointed that Mr. Lazenby chose to breach our long-standing agreement and disparage Saks Fifth Avenue, an iconic luxury retailer that has been vital to Bal Harbour’s success for 45 years. Over the past few months, we have been working with our landlord partners across North America to amicably and logically share the burden of losses stemming from the ongoing global pandemic. Unlike others, this landlord has resorted to providing denigrating statements and confidential information to the media for the sole purpose of coercing Saks into settling a disagreement. Nonetheless, we have remained eager to reach a fair resolution, just as we have done with other landlord partners. Unfortunately, instead of coming to an agreement, Saks has been forced to grapple with the damage to its business and reputation among customers, associates and partners.”

A copy of the lawsuit as filed by Saks Fifth Avenue is available at

About HBC L.P.

HBC is a diversified retailer focused on driving the performance of high-quality stores and their omni-channel platforms and unlocking the value of real estate holdings. Founded in 1670, HBC is the oldest company in North America. HBC’s portfolio today includes formats ranging from luxury to premium department stores to off-price fashion shopping destinations, with over 250 stores and about 30,000 employees around the world. HBC’s leading businesses across North America include Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s Bay and Saks OFF 5TH.

HBC also has significant investments in joint ventures. It has partnered with Simon Property Group Inc. in the HBS Joint Venture, which owns properties in the United States. In Canada, it has partnered with RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust in the RioCan-HBC Joint Venture.


Nicole Schoenberg
Vice President, Communications