A shopper looks over a shoe display as others walk past in the women’s shoe department of the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store in 2006. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson)

A shopper looks over a shoe display as others walk past in the women’s shoe department of the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store in 2006. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson)

Nordstrom family considering buyout of department store

Herald news services

NEW YORK — Members of the Nordstrom family including co-presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom are considering making an offer to buy out the 70 percent of the department store’s stock they don’t already own.

Nordstrom Inc. said Thursday that the group also includes President of Stores James Nordstrom and Chairman Emeritus Bruce Nordstrom.

Shares in the department store chain, which have fallen by about a third since December, rebounded more than 10 percent on the news.

Department stores have seen their sales and financial results battered as consumers shop more online and at off-price retailers, and are spending their money more on experiences and less on clothing, on which department stores are heavily dependent.

Nordstrom said last month that its overall profit jumped 37 percent at its department stores in the first quarter, but a key sales gauge fell short of Wall Street expectations. The sales results at the company’s own discount stores, Nordstrom Rack, were more encouraging.

“We view Nordstrom as the strongest retailer in the department store space,” analysts at Credit Suisse said in a note published Thursday. “We see the company as one of the few retailers able to grow operating income over the next several years given what we view as appropriate investments in e-commerce and off-price assets.”

Nordstrom has been able to maintain some pricing power and produce more robust sales growth than some of its competitors because it targets a sweet spot of consumers who want value but are still willing to spend, Bridget Weishaar, a senior equity analyst for Morningstar, wrote in a research report last month. Nordstrom caters to people who want to spend more than they would at Macy’s or Kohl’s, but still want lower price tags than what they would see at luxury retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, Weishaar notes. “Nordstrom is one of the few department stores offering affordable luxury,” she wrote.

A potential move to take the company private “makes strategic and financial sense for the Nordstrom family,” according to analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets, who said the company has been focused on navigating the long-term shifts in retail — sometimes to the detriment of earnings.

So such a move would give Nordstrom “increased flexibility to navigate a turbulent retail environment,” they wrote.

Nordstrom’s board has formed a committee of independent directors to represent the company in any talks with the family over a potential sale. The chain traces its roots back to a Seattle shoe store opened by Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom and a partner in 1901.

Nordstrom made headlines earlier this year when it dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing and shoe line, citing poor sales. The move sparked a backlash from Trump supporters who called for a boycott of Nordstrom and other stores that had stopped selling the Ivanka line. President Trump criticized the decision on Twitter, but Nordstrom President Peter Nordstrom told investors in a conference call after that “it’s not really discernible one way or the other” whether the tweet affected sales.

Shares in Nordstrom rose 10.3 percent to $44.66 on Thursday.

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