Department store operator Saks Inc is to close its private-label apparel business in order to focus on higher-priced designer brands.

The luxury retailer, a unit of Saks Inc, also will shut its product development division by the end of September. About 15 employees will lose their jobs.

Vice chairman Ronald Frasch said the move was "consistent" with the company's marketing strategy that will allow it to focus "resources on unique, upscale merchandise from our most productive designers."

He added: "In the future, our private-label initiatives will be more aligned with this overall vision of the company and will be developed by our internal merchant team in conjunction with our existing trading partners." 

The retailer has been shedding its mid-priced department stores and developing the Saks Fifth Avenue and Parisian chains.