Nordstrom exploring taking retail chain private

Last Updated Jun 8, 2017 12:32 PM EDT

Members of the Nordstrom family including co-presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom are considering making an offer to buy out the 70 percent of the department store's stock they don't already own.

Nordstrom Inc. announced Thursday that the group also includes President of Stores James Nordstrom and Chairman Emeritus Bruce Nordstrom.

Nordstrom shares, which have fallen by about a third since December, rebounded more than 12 percent on the news, to $47 before settling at around $45 mid-day.

The Seattle-based company's board has formed a committee of independent directors to represent the retailer in any talks with the family over a potential sale. As of Thursday morning, Nordstrom had a market value of $7.8 billion. 

The company, which reported $354 million in earnings last year on $14.5 billion in revenue, operates 354 stores in the U.S. and Canada -- including  221 Nordstrom Rack discount stores.

As with many established retailers, Nordstrom has struggled in recent years as shifts in consumer tastes and the move to online shopping impacts business. The company reported an overall 37 percent jump in profit at its department stores in the most recent quarter, but sales at established stores across the chain declined 0.8 percent.  

Sales figures at established stores are a key retail indicator because they strip out the effects of newly opened and recently closed locations.

The latest quarter's results for the company's discount Nordstrom Rack unit were more encouraging, with a 2.3 percent rise in established-store sales.

Though online sales at Nordstrom have been growing -- and were nearly a quarter of the company's business in the first quarter -- investing in technology to handle the switch to digital sales from the bricks-and-mortar variety has been expensive. 

Nordstrom traces its roots back to a Seattle shoe store opened by Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom and a partner in 1901. It went public in 1971.