Nordstrom acquires upscale online retailer HauteLook.com

Feb 18, 2011

Nordstrom has jumped deeper into the luxury online retailing world by acquiring the "flash sale" website HauteLook for $270 million. The Seattle-based chain made the announcement on the heels of a report citing regular-price sales of "historically high levels."

Under terms of the deal, HauteLook will operate as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary and retain its current management. The HauteLook brand and website will remain separate from Nordstrom.

What's a "flash sale?"

Flash sale sites typically offer heavily discounted branded merchandise - typically designer clothes and shoes - for a limited time, usually just a couple of days. HauteLook, founded in 2007, claims four million members, and its CEO told The New York Times in November it expected to top $100 million in sales in 2010.

In a news release, Nordstrom president Blake Nordstrom says he believes the acquisition "further enhances our focus on serving customers online in new and compelling ways:"

"While our focus on providing a superior in-store shopping experience is our roots, continuing to find ways to use technology to serve customers the way they want to be served is critical. This partnership gives Nordstrom and HauteLook shared growth opportunities as online shopping evolves."

Profits are way up

Meantime, Nordstrom reported on Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 35-percent and that full-price sales have returned to pre-recession levels. The company's lower-price Nordstrom Rack division also did better than it has in recent quarters, up 24.1 percent from a year earlier.