Karen Katz cops to a personal aversion to stiletto heels. She admits enlisting a local stylist for help in pulling her seasonal wardrobes together, and, worse still, that she hates to shop. Hardly the stuff of irony for a woman at the top of her field in a high-pressured career, except that as president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Stores, Katz steers the ship of one of the bastions of American luxury retail, currently in the throes of a major boom.

On Tuesday, the Neiman Marcus Group reported dramatic gains in fourth-quarter and full-year profits: for the quarter ended July 31, earnings of $20.6 million, a whopping 187 percent increase over last year. Revenues increased 12.3 percent. Specialty retail revenues rose 11.1 percent. For fiscal year 2004, comparable-store sales were up 14 percent.

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