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Nordstrom plans to open multiple stores in Canada in partnership with Canadian developer Cadillac Fairview, Women’s Wear Daily reported Tuesday.

A public-relations firm rounding up media for an official announcement Thursday in Toronto about “store plans for Canada” declined to elaborate.

And Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson would say only, “We’ll have more about our plans on Thursday.”

The Seattle-based chain has 234 stores, including 113 Nordstrom Rack sites, all in the U.S. Last year, it said it was stepping up efforts to expand internationally. President Blake Nordstrom told shareholders it was looking in Toronto and Vancouver, but that finding “the right locations is a challenge.”

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Dan Geiman, an analyst who follows Nordstrom at McAdams Wright Ragen in Seattle, said speculation is Nordstrom will open one full-line store each in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa.

Nordstrom, whose ships to households in Canada, is not the first U.S. retailer to head north. Shoppers there already know U.S. brands and have a healthier economy.

J.Crew began opening stores in Canada last year, Target plans to open at least 125 stores there beginning next spring, and Bloomingdale’s is reported to be in talks about opening in Canada.

“Until a few years ago, [Nordstrom] saw quite a bit of opportunity in the U.S.,” Geiman said. “Malls were still being built, and shoppers were continuing to shop.”

With the flagging economy and high unemployment, “that’s kind of shut down at this point,” he said.

Opening in Canada is a way for Nordstrom to keep growing anyway.

The chain also has ramped up expansion of Nordstrom Rack stores, bought flash-sale online retailer HauteLook and made a small investment in online-menswear retailer Bonobos. The tech-spending spree made a dent in earnings, but Geiman and others say online sales are crucial now that is moving into designer apparel.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or Twitter @AllisonSeattle.

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