NEW YORK (AP) _ Melvin Jacobs, the former chief of the Burdine's chain and vice chairman of Federated Department Stores who went on to lead the glitzy Saks Fifth Avenue, has died at age 67.

Jacobs died Wednesday at his Manhattan home. The exact cause of death was uncertain, but doctors said he might have suffered a heart attack.

He started in the bargain basement at Bloomingdale's 43 years ago, eventually moving up to senior vice president and general merchandise manager.

In 1972, he was named president of Burdine's, a Florida-based department store chain owned by Federated Department Stores Inc., which also owned Bloomingdale's.

''Mel did some great things for Burdine's,'' said spokesman Carey Watson.

While in Florida, he sat on the board of governors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Downtown Development Authority.

Federated later made him a vice chairman, but he left in 1982 to become chairman and chief executive of Saks. When Saks was up for sale in 1990, he led a management group in an unsuccessful attempt to buy the 50-store chain.

''He was very perceptive to business and fashion trends, very alert to new merchandising,'' said Alvah H. Chapman Jr., a friend and former chairman of the board of Knight-Ridder Inc.

After retiring from Saks just three months ago, Jacobs started a retailing and investment company called Retail Options Inc., and recently joined the board of QVC Network Inc., the television shopping service.

Jacobs is survived by his wife, Rosalind Gersten Jacobs, a brother and a daughter.