Nordstrom vows even more gains

The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE -- Upscale retailer Nordstrom held its first annual meeting yesterday with the fourth-generation family members solely responsible for the company's future.

Chairman Bruce Nordstrom and longtime director John Nordstrom - the last of the third generation to run the company - both retired at last year's annual meeting.

At the meeting in downtown Seattle, shareholders heard how in fiscal 2006, Nordstrom Inc. continued to reap the benefits of changes made six years ago amid slowing sales and profits.

In August 2000, the company placed the fourth generation in key leadership positions after its "Reinvent Yourself" campaign sputtered with core shoppers.

Among its most significant changes, Nordstrom made a significant investment in a perpetual inventory system that helped buyers and salespeople make smarter decisions about what it sells.

Choosing items in the right styles, quantities and colors has enabled it to sell more of these items at full price.

Nordstrom posted $8.6 billion in sales for the past fiscal year, a 10.8 percent increase from the year before. Its profit rose 23 percent to $678 million or $2.55 per share.

The company reported other record highs: The company's overhead narrowed for the sixth year to 26.8 percent of sales, while its pretax profit exceeded $1 billion for the first time.

The company's stock also reached a split-adjusted high of $57 per share during the fiscal year. It has since traded as high as $59.70.

The shares fell 65 cents to close at $52.05 yesterday.

President Blake W. Nordstrom said the company will focus on enhancing the customer experience in its full-line stores by remodeling existing stores and refining the merchandise it offers to customers.

"It's this whole idea of continuous improvement," he said.

Nordstrom also plans to double the size of its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, distribution center to serve its burgeoning online business.

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