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Nordstrom to close S.L. center

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Forty-three Utahns will lose their jobs by the end of August as Nordstrom Inc. closes its Salt Lake distribution center.

But Nordstrom spokeswoman Brooke White said Thursday that the Seattle-based company hopes affected workers can find jobs at the company's soon-to-open Orem store.

"We're a people-focused company, and we hope we can keep as many as possible in positions for which they are qualified," White said.

The leased distribution center at 1736 S. 4250 West opened in 1984 and serves Salt Lake and Murray Nordstrom stores and a Nordstrom Rack in Sugarhouse, plus two of each store type in Colorado.

The center's closing will occur in two phases. In April, the Colorado stores will start being supplied by a distribution center in Dubuque, Iowa. By the end of August, Utah's stores will be receiving items from a center in Ontario, Calif.

Nordstrom said the Salt Lake facility was the one only leased by the company — it owns the others — and was only 64,000 square feet, much smaller than the average Nordstrom distribution center size of 350,000 to 400,000 square feet.

"This is part of a larger realignment," White said. "We really outgrew our space in Salt Lake. We looked at a number of options, including increasing the size of the space in Salt Lake or moving to a new facility in Salt Lake or using other owned state-of-the-art facilities. That (last option) ended up making the most sense in the long run."

Nordstrom also has been working to add to and enhance other, larger facilities, and bringing the Salt Lake facility to that same level would have been costly, she said.

"It's difficult to do because we love our employees, but it was the best decision under the circumstances," she said. "We're in the process of adding new technology at our systems, so the Salt Lake facility would have needed a major overhaul. We're continuing to look at how to be more efficient in running our business.

"We are committed to Utah. We've done business in the Salt Lake area now for more than 20 years, and we love our customers in the area."

Another cost savings will result from not having trucks cross the Rocky Mountains between Utah and Colorado.

"It was a cost issue in the end, when we have so many state-of-the-art facilities we already own. But there were layers of decisions we had to make," White said.

The company said it made the decision to announce the closure now to give workers as much time as possible to apply for positions at the new Orem store, set to open March 29 at University Mall. The new store will have 100 to 150 employees, White said.

"This (closure) was an extremely difficult decision, given the fact we have an energetic and capable staff at our distribution center," said Linda Schantz, vice president of corporate logistics. "We want to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication. We will now put our efforts toward assisting them in transitioning to other positions, either within the company or elsewhere."

Nordstrom will offer severance packages to workers not placed elsewhere within the company and who meet certain criteria for both phases of the building closure. Employees who receive a severance package also will be eligible for outplacement services.

Nordstrom operates 80 full-line stores, 45 Nordstrom Racks, four Faconnable boutiques, two free-standing shoe stores and one clearance store. Nordstrom also operates 24 international Faconnable boutiques, primarily in Europe.

E-MAIL: bwallace@desnews.com