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Nordstrom CIO to be replaced

By Carol Sliwa
September 15, 2000 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Slumping sales growth has prompted Nordstrom Inc. to replace several key executives, including its first CIO, who departed last week after just seven months on the job.

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based retailer said the company could announce a replacement for exiting CIO Richard Lennon as early as this week. Lennon joined Nordstrom in February after leaving Louisville, Ky.-based BrownForman Corp.

"We felt we needed a change in the leadership to move forward on our technology initiatives," said Nordstrom spokeswoman Paula Weigand, adding that the company has been working on improving its replenishment and inventory management systems.

Like many retailers, Nordstrom faces significant challenges as it re-evaluates and upgrades its information technology systems, said Carol Ferrara, a retail analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc. Regarding the Nordstrom CIO's departure, Ferrara said cultural issues and organizational adjustments sometimes make it "difficult for the CIOs to become effective and integrated" into family-owned businesses.

"It's interesting, especially in retail, to see the kind of knee-jerk reaction to a bad quarter," Ferrara said, noting that many retailers experienced tough quarters, especially in the apparel segment. "We see the same CIOs and executives moving from company to company, more so than in a lot of other industries."

Whether Lennon's exit prompts the infusion of new blood from another retailer remains to be seen. Other recently departed executives were replaced by longtime Nordstrom employees bearing the family surname.

Bruce Nordstrom, 66, came out of retirement to take over as chairman of the board of directors when John Whitacre resigned as chairman and CEO late last month. One of his sons, Blake Nordstrom, 39, a 26-year veteran of the company, was appointed president. Another son, Pete Nordstrom, 38, who joined the company in 1978, was named president of Nordstrom's full-line store group after 19-year veteran Marty Wikstrom resigned earlier this month.

Enrique Hernandez Jr., the newly appointed lead independent director at Nordstrom, said in a recent prepared statement, "We believe new leadership will bring an energized responsiveness necessary to maintain a strong focus on customers, while pushing Nordstrom to higher levels of profitability."

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