Loretta Soffe, Nordstrom Part Ways

GMM of women's apparel exits after 24 years with firm.

Loretta Soffe, Nordstrom’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager for women’s apparel, has left the company.

This story first appeared in the January 17, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Nordstrom confirmed the departure but did not provide an explanation for why Soffe, a 24-year veteran of the Seattle-based retailer, left. A successor has not been named yet.

Soffe was executive vice president since November 2005. She previously served as vice president and corporate merchandise manager from April 2001 to November 2005. She also served as product market leader, and as a national buyer.

Nordstrom has been experimenting with a new women’s apparel scheme to bolster the business. Last year, Nordstrom opened stores in St. Louis and Nashville, which Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising, said exhibited “an intuitive organization and presentation of merchandise based on style, occasion, fit and price that was less about the boundaries and limitations of a strict lifestyle layout like we have traditionally had.

“We did these two new stores, which are doing well, and we did a handful of existing, older stores so we can learn,” Nordstrom said last fall. “Our hope is to be able to take what we’ve learned by the end of fiscal ’11 and implement a best layout for our stores going forward. We are learning things.”

In 2011, Nordstrom’s business overall was strong, though there was some softness in certain women’s categories. Shoes, accessories and men’s wear did well, as did designer apparel, though there is a team for designer apparel that’s separate from the women’s apparel group that Soffe supervised. “Designer is a different team from women’s apparel though these areas collaborate very closely,” said Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson.