Nordstrom Inc. is investing heavily in the future and seeking to crack $20 billion in sales by 2020.
Though earnings took a dip in 2014 and will again be under pressure this year, officials at the $13.1 billion Seattle-based department store chain expect a positive profit swing in 2016, following peak investments this year in expansion into Canada, Rack openings and new technology and fulfillment capabilities.
The $20 billion-plus goal was revealed by Mike Koppel, Nordstrom’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, during a conference call Thursday, after the company released results for the fourth quarter and 2014 that included a decline in profits.
In other news cited by executives:
• Nordstrom has set $4.3 billion in capital expenditures for the 2015-2019 period, including $1.1 billion for Canada stores and the Manhattan flagship seen opening in 2018. This year alone, capex is expected to grow to $1.2 billion, from $750 million in 2014.
• The credit card business could be sold in the first half of this year.
• The Rack off-price chain will continue rapid growth and will eclipse 300 locations by 2020, from the current 167. Nordstrom also operates 116 full-line stores, which are being outperformed by Rack.
• Trunk Club, purchased last year, doubled its sales in 2014 and plans to double sales again this year.
• Topshop will greatly expand its presence inside Nordstrom stores, from 50 currently to 80 by the end of this year.
“We had the most success in our young customer segment,” said Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising, in recapping the recent performance in women’s sportswear. “Topshop was our leading brand and initiative. It’s been really very, very good. Existing stores are comping really well.” Nordstrom’s earnings in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31 dropped 4.9 percent to $255 million, or $1.32 a diluted share, from $268 million, or $1.37 a share, in the year-ago period, largely due to costs associated with store openings and enhancements, the Trunk Club acquisition and investments in technology and infrastructure. The earnings per share fell in line with Nordstrom’s forecast but were lower than the consensus estimate of $1.35.
Total sales in the quarter increased 9 percent to $3.9 billion, from $3.6 billion a year ago, while comparable sales rose 4.7 percent.
For all of 2014, net earnings were $720 million, compared with $734 million in 2013. Total sales gained 7.8 percent to $13.1 billion.
Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Inc., called 2014 “a watershed moment in our company history,” due to the entry into Canada with a full-line store in Calgary; the spring launch of nordstromrack.com by the HauteLook.com unit; the decision to explore the sale of the credit receivables; the aggressive expansion of Rack, which will also open stores in Canada, and the purchase of Trunk Club.
The company expects its ongoing expansion into Canada to continue to be dilutive to earnings. The estimated loss before interest and taxes for Canada is expected to be about $60 million in fiscal 2015, compared to $32 million last year.
Trunk Club will cost Nordstrom about $30 million in losses this year, compared with $25 million last year.
Nordstrom projected comp-store sales growth of 2 to 4 percent in 2015, per share profits from $3.65 to $3.80, and a 5 to 15 basis point decrease in gross profit.