Nordstrom to buy HauteLook to boost online salesUpscale department store chain Nordstrom said Thursday it would acquire HauteLook, an online retailer that offers flash sales on designer goods, the New York Times reports.

Flush with cash, Nordstrom navigated the recession better than almost all of its rivals on the strength of its innovative inventory monitoring system and highly efficient supply chain. The Seattle-based department store said it would pay $180 million for HauteLook, which it hopes will help boost online sales - which continue to grow as a percentage of revenue each year.

HauteLook is based in Los Angeles and will essentially continue to run as a separate company, a Nordstrom executive said. Like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La, HauteLook gives exclusive discounts to its followers on designer brands over short periods of time, usually 36 to 48 hours.

Jamie Nordstrom, the president of Nordstrom Direct, the company's online business, said in a statement that "customers are responding to this way of shopping, so we'd like to participate." Nordstrom has tweaked its sales model over the years as it adjusted to changes in consumer spending. Last year, it merged its store and online inventory, boosting sales and efficiency.

Nordstrom announced its 2010 earnings on Thursday: The company earned $232 million for the 2010 fiscal year - up 35 percent from the year prior. Sales also hit their highest level ever at $9.31 billion.  
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