Bruce Nordstrom, the former president of the Seattle retailer, has died at the age of 90 – Business News (Trending Perfect)


Bruce Nordstrom, who helped guide the explosive growth that cemented his family's Seattle-based namesake company as a national retailer, died Saturday morning at his home in Seattle. He was 90 years old.

Part of the third generation of family leadership who took over in 1968 and encouraged the company to go public in 1971, Nordstrom helped guide the company through a key period that included expansion throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and—crucially—California in the 1970s.

“Our father will be remembered not only for his significant contributions to Nordstrom, but also for his unwavering dedication to his family and friends,” sons Pete and Eric Nordstrom, the company's president and CEO, respectively, said in a statement. “His passion, integrity and tireless work ethic were an inspiration to everyone around him. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was being an amazing father, husband and grandfather.”

He championed a foray into the world of retail, and was troubled by the industry's arrogance that had driven out a Seattle-based retailer.

Nordstrom It was reported to the New York Times In 2019, as the company expanded into California decades earlier, “experts told me in so many words, you know, ‘You guys are basically a bunch of dumb Swedes selling to another bunch of dumb Swedes, in Seattle, in the woods over there. Are you going to California? Do you understand how complex and wonderful it is? It got under my fingernails really bad.

By 1980, the company had become the third-largest specialty retailer in the country and planned to open as many as 25 new stores in the next decade.

Nordstrom praised the company's broad offerings, rejecting industry advice to specialize in serving a specific customer demographic. “Our goal was to sell shoes to everyone in Seattle,” he said.

Even as the store's offerings expand, shoes are still a draw, Nordstrom said. “That gets them in, and in the meantime, you're selling them everything else.”

Nordstrom, who studied economics at Univ University of WashingtonHe held various leadership positions in his decades-long career. Affectionately known as “Mr. Bruce” by employees, he began his career in the Nordstrom warehouse and sales floor at the flagship location in Seattle.

“He loved this company. He loved the business (especially selling shoes) but most of all he loved our people and our culture,” the family said in a letter to company employees on Saturday. “His quiet wisdom shone through in his commitment to doing the right thing for our customers, and for the people of around him, and for our community.”

In 1968, he and his cousins ​​Jim and John Nordstrom, along with his cousin Jack McMillan, took over the company and took it public three years later.

He retired as co-chairman in 1995, then served on the board of directors until the mid-2000s. That period included the launch of the company's online sales in the late 1990s. He retired as Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2006.

The statement told employees that his “strategic vision and relentless pursuit of customer excellence” pushed the company to “new heights,” shaping its future and leaving an “indelible mark” on its success.

Nordstrom also oversaw difficult times in the company's history.

The state Department of Labor and Industries alleged in 1990 that Nordstrom routinely failed to pay employees for work, such as attending meetings and delivering purchases to customers.

In the 1990s, the retailer saw sales and profits slow. After a brief period when the company was controlled by non-family members, Nordstrom came out of retirement to become president in 2000, promising to help right the ship.

In the following years, Nordstrom was able to overcome negative customer reviews after an advertising campaign urging customers to “reinvent themselves” alienated some loyal shoppers.

By the mid-2000s, the company was recovering, with stock prices and sales rising.

During Nordstrom's last annual shareholder meeting as board chair, a longtime customer praised the company during a question-and-answer session, saying she was glad Nordstrom had “destroyed” its East Coast competition. “Mr. Bruce, you did something right,” she said.

He is a past president of the Downtown Seattle Association, the Children's Hospital Foundation and Seattle Goodwill. He also served as campaign chairman for the United Way of King County in 1984.

Nordstrom is survived by his wife, Jenny – who his family said was by his side when he died – his sister, Anne Gettinger, his children Pete and Eric, his wives Brandi, Julie and Molly, and seven grandchildren, Alex, Andy, Lee, Sam, Sarah, Mickey and Chet.

His son, former co-chairman Blake W. Nordstrom, died in 2019 at age 58.

“Our father left a strong legacy as a legendary business leader, generous community citizen and loyal friend,” Nordstrom’s sons said.

Materials from the Seattle Times archives It is included in this report.



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