Nordstrom (JWN) will remain listed on the stock exchange until at least after it faces a major test this Christmas season.
The upscale department store, which earlier this year said it would look into having the founding and namesake family potentially take Nordstrom private, said on Monday it was suspending those efforts until after the holiday season. Family members, which include co-presidents Blake, Erik and Peter Nordstrom, told the Nordstrom board’s special committee, that they intend to resume exploring the possibility of taking Nordstrom private after the key holiday season.
The Nordstrom’s have looked at teaming up with private equity firm Leonard Green Partners to execute a deal some have mused could be worth $10 billion, according to various media reports. Such reports have suggested a deal was getting harder to land as the two parties struggled to borrow money are reasonable rates.
Shares fell 6% to $40 on the news in morning trading, giving the company a market capitalization of $6.67 billion. Despite being one of the better performing department stores, Nordstrom has seen its shares plummet in the last year on concerns about mall traffic and the loss of market share to other retailers. Nordstrom shares are off 33% from a 52-week high.
It’s easy to see the temptation for the Nordstroms, who control nearly one-third of shares, to take their company private. While the namesake department stores have been struggling with same-store sales, the overall company is growing, buoyed by Nordstrom’s strong e-commerce and the popularity of its Rack discount stores. Nordstrom recently added a new Canadian store and continues to expand the Rack fleet. It is also a few months away from its first New York City full-price location.
And an anxious Wall Street seems to often overreact to any Nordstrom news: when the company recently announced a test store of 3,000 square-feet that wouldn’t stock merchandise, a small drop in the bucket for a retailer with hundreds of stores much bigger, shares tanked.
By waiting to resume the exploration until after December, the pressure on Nordstrom to perform strongly during the crucial holiday season has grown as potential lenders need to feel more confident in its core business. Skittish lenders and Wall Street investors have generally become more anxious about retailers, what with many bankruptcies by debt-laden chains such as Toys R Us and store closings by rivals like Macy’s (M), constantly making headlines this year.
Until Nordstrom comes out the other side of the holidays, “the Company and its employees will remain focused” on the core business.