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California and the West

Nordstrom Goes Outside the Family

Enrique Hernandez Jr. is named nonexecutive chairman of the Seattle retailer, succeeding Bruce Nordstrom.

May 24, 2006|Leslie Earnest | Times Staff Writer

Bruce Nordstrom retired Tuesday as chairman of the upscale retailer that bears his family's name, and the board moved a Pasadena businessman to the head of the table.

Enrique "Rick" Hernandez Jr., chairman and chief executive of Inter-Con Security Systems Inc. and a Nordstrom Inc. board member since 1997, was named nonexecutive chairman of the Seattle retailer, which has been guided by family members throughout its 105-year history.

"To have a strong outside chairman in the company that has a strong family presence is important," said Erik Nordstrom, executive vice president in charge of stores.

Hernandez, 50, has been an independent director for nine years and lead outside director since 2000. He also is a director of McDonald's Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times.

"After serving as lead director, we feel it's a natural transition to have Rick Hernandez take on this new assignment," said Bruce Nordstrom, 72, who had reached the board's mandatory retirement age.

"Blake continues to lead our company as president," he said, referring to his son.

John Nordstrom, the 69-year-old cousin of Bruce Nordstrom, also retired Tuesday during the company's annual shareholder meeting in its downtown Seattle store. The two, both grandsons of founder John W. Nordstrom, had served for four decades.

It was the second time Bruce Nordstrom had relinquished the chairmanship, which he reclaimed in 2000 after five years of retirement during which nonfamily members held the post.

Also Tuesday, shareholders elected two fourth-generation Nordstroms to the board: Pete, executive vice president of merchandising, and Erik. Blake Nordstrom, their brother, is also a board member.

The retailer expects no significant changes as a result of the shifts, spokeswoman Deniz Anders said.

Patricia Edwards, Seattle-based managing director at Wentworth, Hauser & Violich, expected Blake Nordstrom to be named chairman.

"I was shocked," said Edwards, whose firm has $8 billion in assets, including Nordstrom shares. Still, Hernandez's appointment "allows Blake to continue to focus on the business, and the board to focus on board business. Overall it's a good choice -- it's just not what I thought of."

The company's shares rose 8 cents to $34.67.

Bloomberg News was used in compiling this report.

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