President Blake Nordstrom tells shareholders at annual meeting that the company continues to emphasize customer service despite an economic slowdown that also is forcing it to keep costs down.

Share story

For the most part, you don’t expect to see a lot of hugging when shareholders and corporate executives get together for their once-a-year meeting.

But Nordstrom’s annual shareholders meeting Tuesday turned downright touchy-feely as the founders of Juicy Couture took the stage in matching black miniskirts to accept their award for being a standout vendor to the Seattle-based retailer.

Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising, appeared speechless as self-proclaimed L.A. girls Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor stole the show with their bubbly personalities and cheerful send-off, “Viva La Juicy!”

Next came Brigitte Kleine, representing the designer label Tory Burch. She, too, demanded a hug.

After it was all over, Pete Nordstrom quipped, “My job is much better than those guys’ jobs,” referring to the company’s other top executives.

Erik Nordstrom, president of stores, opined as he took the podium before some 400 people at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall: “No, my job is not as glamorous; there’s much less hugging and kissing.”

Then it was back to business.

Erik Nordstrom went on to talk about the company’s plans to offer Internet shoppers its “buy online, pick up in store” option for all merchandise categories by September.

Nordstrom is testing the service this month with items from its women’s and men’s apparel departments, as well as women’s shoes and cosmetics.

Erik Nordstrom said the feedback has been positive from customers who appreciate the convenience of online shopping but like coming into stores to try on their purchases.

“It’s gone pretty well so far,” he said. “If we do it right, we can separate ourselves from the competition.”

President Blake Nordstrom said the company continues to emphasize customer service despite an economic slowdown that is forcing it to keep costs down.

About 32 percent of its business is in California, which has been especially hard-hit by the housing-market downturn.

“We’ve been through these cycles before. We’ll get through it,” Blake Nordstrom said.

The company last week reported sales at stores open at least a year fell 6.5 percent for the three-month period ended May 3.

Profit dropped 24 percent to $119 million, or 54 cents a share, from $157 million, or 60 cents a share, a year ago.

Shares of Nordstrom have traded between $54 and $28 in the past year. The stock closed Tuesday down 64 cents at $36.92.

Still, the company is forging ahead with plans to open eight new full-line stores and six new Nordstrom Racks this year; moreover, it has letters of intent for 19 additional sites through 2012.

The company now has 105 full-line stores, 50 Nordstrom Racks, two Jeffrey boutiques and two clearance stores.

“By 2015, we think we could have 140 or more full-line stores,” Blake Nordstrom said.

One place in particular where Nordstrom would like to be is Manhattan, though a deal does not appear imminent.

“We’re not very close at all,” Blake Nordstrom said. “Something could come up, or 15 years from now, we could still be talking about how we’re looking in Manhattan.”

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com