NORDSTROM TO ENTER NEW YORK STATE FRIDAY

Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — Continuing to ring the metropolitan area, Nordstrom will open it’s first store in this state on Friday — a 219,000-square-foot unit in White Plains, seen hitting $90 to $100 million in sales in its first year.
Wall Street sources also estimated the store’s cost at $35 million to $40 million, and said it would turn profitable in a year.
“We hope it’s up there with our best stores,” said Jim Nordstrom, co-chairman of the Seattle-based specialty chain, in an interview Monday. “We hope our big shoe inventories attract a lot of people. The store is stocked very intensively. “As a company we do around $400 a foot,” Nordstrom said. “That’s our typical store. But this store is in a more heavily populated area than where we are used to opening, such as in Utah, Washington and Oregon. We hope this will be higher [in volume].” Nordstrom cited some of the chain’s current top units, including those in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, Calif., which he said hits $700 to $800; and in Paramus, N.J., which does $500 to $600 in sales. The Oakbrook, Ill., store in the Chicago market is another top unit, hitting $600 to $700 in sales.
The company has announced plans to open in the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey next August, and in the Roosevelt Field Shopping Center on Long Island in spring 1997. Nordstrom wouldn’t project a volume for White Plains, but sources pegged it at least $450 a foot, bringing it close to $100 million in annual volume. That compares with Nordstrom’s older stores, which generate $40 million to $45 million annually in sales, while newer units generally hit $75 million to $80 million.
The White Plains unit will anchor The Westchester Mall, a $270 million complex debuting Friday, along with Neiman Marcus. Other stores in the mall include Tiffany’s, Crate & Barrel, Talbots, F.A.O. Schwarz, Joan & David, Speedo and A/X Armani Exchange.
However, Nordstrom’s should be the standout in service, with roughly 60 percent of the staff of 800 in sales; 40 percent are management, buyers and support staff. The new store will also offer the “personal touch” wardrobing service, a cafe with an outdoor terrace, coffee at 25 cents a cup and free refills, a “mother’s room” for changing babies, free gift wrapping, and home deliveries. “It’s very oriented toward the suburban family, and from that aspect it seems more unique for Nordstrom,” said Jennifer Black Groves, executive vice president, Black & Co.
“They are offering everything from a couture department to having among its largest children’s and toddler shoe and apparel departments in the chain,” Groves said.
There will also be many bridge and designer labels, including Donna Karan and Burberrys, though Nordstrom generally does not carry each designer label in as much depth as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s or Saks Fifth Avenue. Bloomingdale’s and Saks are both about a block away. Nordstrom executives tend to highlight their “super brand” labels, meaning those lines that provide exclusives, including Facionnable, Calloway and Hickey Freeman, as another way to distinguish itself from the competition.
“It’s going to be home run,” said Kenneth Londoner, vice president J&W Seligman, who was part of a group of analysts touring the store Tuesday. “Bruce Nordstrom called it a barn burner, focus groups have reviewed it and everybody is real positive. This opens up a whole market for the Nordstroms, and they’ve put together a unique store in a dynamic market. The store has better lighting, it’s very bright, the fixtures are more modern.”
Londoner also said the White Plains store has an experimental “power aisle.” He described it as “a very wide aisle with an oak floor and merchandising tables alongside, that help tell a fashion story. “The store is very airy, with a lot of free space. Consumers are going to love it.”
Londoner and Groves were part of a group of analysts that toured the store and the mall Tuesday. “Neiman’s is a nice store, but in terms of volume, Nordstrom’s is the cornerstone of the whole development.”
He also said that Nordstrom management disclosed it is contemplating a “sizable” share repurchase program. Londoner believes Nordstrom is in “its lowest debt position in decades” and can fund major expansion on its own cash flow.
He envisions by the end of the decade, Nordstrom’s having 10 or 11 units in the metro market, including central New Jersey and Long Island. “Maybe one day there will be a Nordstrom store in Manhattan, but management will not endorse that strategy yet,” Londoner said.
“It’s very competitive in New York,” Nordstrom said, though he acknowledged the company is looking for more sites in the metro area. Asked about Manhattan, Nordstrom said, “We’ve never seen anything [real estate] of interest to us.”