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Nordstrom taps company veteran to lead Rack merchandising

Lori Marten has held various merchandising roles at the department store for nearly 30 years, and will join the off-price unit later this month.

Nordstrom taps company veteran to lead Rack merchandising

A Nordstrom Rack store. The company continues to expand its off-price fleet, with 22 more locations planned this year. Daphne Howland/Fashion Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Longtime Nordstrom merchant Lori Marten has been named executive vice president and general merchandising manager of the retailer’s Rack business, the company said by email. 

  • She has been at Nordstrom for nearly 30 years, serving in various merchandising roles. Most recently she was senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager of Nordstrom’s men’s and women’s specialized, active and performance outerwear categories.

  • Marten starts her new position April 21, reporting to Gemma Lionello, who has been Rack president since September. Marten’s appointment follows the departure last month of Nancy Mair, who was senior vice president of Rack merchandising for two years.

Dive Insight:

For this latest shakeup in Rack’s merchandising team, Nordstrom looked within its own ranks.

A couple of years ago, the company brought on Mair, who had worked at Burlington for 26 years and then as a consultant specialized in off price.

Marten’s merchandising experience at the department store has spanned accessories, home, specialized and men’s, according to the company’s email. At Rack, she will lead the merchandising team and be responsible for driving strategy. She will also help the off-price unit deepen relationships with brand partners, Lionello said in a statement.

“Throughout her impressive career at Nordstrom, Lori has consistently delivered results, identified and developed new business categories, and led teams with a focus on both short-term objectives and long-term strategic goals,” she said. “Lori’s deep understanding of our business and our customers will help fuel the momentum for Nordstrom Rack as we continue to expand our store fleet and improve the customer experience, both in-stores and online.”

Rack is slated for expansion, with 22 new locations planned this year, more than last year’s 19. The retailer’s CEO, Erik Nordstrom, has called Rack a “growth engine” and an entry point to the full-line stores, with about a quarter of loyal Rack customers migrating to the full-line Nordstrom banner within four years.

The off-price business has struggled compared to stalwarts like the retailers run by TJX, Ross and Burlington, however. Three years ago Rack pivoted toward offering more value-oriented merchandise, a move that turned off many customers and was abandoned. Sales have recovered in recent quarters, helped by the fleet expansion. But Evercore ISI analysts led by Michael Binetti in March said that new Rack stores aren’t contributing as many sales as expected.

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