By  on May 14, 2013

Nordstrom’s online business is booming.

It took only 12 years for the e-commerce business of the Seattle-based retailer to exceed $1 billion, a milestone that took the company 84 years to reach, according to Enrique Hernandez Jr., chairman of Nordstrom Inc. That growth is six times the rate of the company’s average growth over the course of its history, Hernandez told attendees at the company’s annual meeting in Seattle on Tuesday.

In addition to its full-line stores and the Rack off-price division, Nordstrom’s online presence includes HauteLook, a flash-sale site that it acquired in 2011. Hernandez said that component of the e-commerce business is “a very important part of our future.”

Another key component to the company’s future growth is its planned entry into the New York City market, he said. Last June, Nordstrom confirmed that it would open a full-line store in 2018 at 225 West 57th Street, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue near Columbus Circle. Hernandez said the 285,000-square-foot, seven-story store will be the first upscale department store to enter the market since the Great Depression.

In addition, Nordstrom is also preparing to make its first foray out of the U.S. by entering Canada with a mix of full-line and Rack stores that will “rival the highest presence Canadian stores,” Hernandez said. The plan, he said is to open “a couple dozen stores” in that country.

In answer to a shareholder’s question about expanding into other international markets such as Brazil, Blake Nordstrom, president, responded: “Until not long ago, we weren’t entertaining ideas for international growth.” But the proximity of Canada to its home base in Seattle and the fact that the company has 15,000 credit- card customers in that country prompted it to take the plunge. “If we do that right, it may open doors to other countries,” he said, adding that if it happens, it will be after New York City opens, around 2020.

Hernandez recapped some of the company’s successes [since current management took over in 2000], noting that men’s wear, cosmetics and direct sales all crossed the $1 billion mark, while sales at Rack stores and in shoes exceeded $2 billion. Nordstrom’s overall volume in 2012 was $11.8 billion.

At the meeting, the retailer singled out two vendors for its Partners in Excellence awards, Sam Edelman and Vince Camuto.

Nordstrom will release first-quarter earnings on Thursday.

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