Neiman sees e-commerce as tool for global push

Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:40pm EDT

(Reuters) - Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group Inc NMRCUS.UL will use e-commerce to push into new international markets, with plans to start a Chinese website by July and offer overseas shipping on its main site in time for the holiday season.

Neiman Marcus currently gets international revenue only from shipping to Canada from its U.S. websites. Its 42 namesake department stores, as well as its outlet locations and Bergdorf Goodman store, are all in the United States.

But earlier this year, the company took a 37 percent stake in Glamour Sales Holding Limited, a privately held e-commerce company based in Hong Kong with leading flash sales sites in Asia, with the goal of introducing a full-price e-commerce website in China by next July.

"There are a number of ways we could approach international expansion," Neiman Marcus Group Chief Executive Karen Katz told the Reuters Retail and Consumer Summit by phone from Dallas. "What we've chosen for today is to launch a full-price NeimanMarcus.com.cn site in China and to really focus our efforts in China through e-commerce."

Katz said Neiman has moved a number of senior executives to Shanghai.

"The one thing that is for sure at the Neiman Marcus Group is e-commerce is becoming a larger and larger percent of our total business," Katz said. E-commerce accounts for about 20 percent of sales.

Earlier on Thursday, Neiman reported a much smaller quarterly loss, helped by a 7.9 percent jump in comparable sales.

Neiman and other department store chains have been looking for ways to tap into international shoppers' interest in their brands.

In May, Macy's Inc (M.N) said it would start selling some items from its private-brand collection directly to shoppers in China through a deal with online retailer omei.com, a new China based e-commerce site operated by VIPStore Co Ltd, with a view to gauging long-term prospects there.

And on Thursday, Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) said it was expanding into Canada, with plans to open four stores there starting in 2014.

Both Nordstrom and Macy's have tested international sales by offering online shipping on their websites.

Neiman will start offering that service beyond Canada in the next two months.

Katz said the chain would also consider opening stores in Canada under the right circumstances.

"I think it's a matter of 'can we find locations there that fit our demographic and psychographic profile?'" she said.

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(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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