CHARLOTTE -- Belk Inc. is officially bigger.
The Charlotte-based department store chain completed its purchase of 38 Parisian stores Monday, further solidifying the chain's place as the nation's largest privately held department store chain.
Belk purchased the stores from Saks, which has been selling its middle-market department stores as it shifts its focus back to its high-end Saks stores.
The purchase includes Parisian stores in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, creating a new Belk presence in those states. The chain now operates 315 stores in 19 states.
Analysts and Belk officials have said the Parisian purchase could increase the chances the Belk stores will carry more upscale clothing for women. The Parisian stores are likely to see stronger men's sportswear and home merchandise departments, they said.
Belk has said it plans to change the Parisian name to Belk in the third quarter of 2007.