US-based Nordstrom's president Blake Nordstrom announced that the company's board of directors have authorised a US$1bn share repurchase programme.

The clothes retailer, which held its annual shareholder meeting in its downtown Seattle store yesterday (23 May), also announced the retirements of Nordstrom third generation leaders Bruce Nordstrom and John Nordstrom.

During the first quarter of 2006, $500m of the authorisation was completed, and now the shares are expected to be acquired through open market transactions during the next 18 to 36 months.

Blake Nordstrom said: "The company just completed another quarter with improved operating performance, and we remain in a position of financial strength and flexibility.

"This share repurchase programme reflects the continued confidence the board has in our business and our ongoing commitment to return value to shareholders."

Shareholders also elected all nine nominated directors to the board including new nominees Erik Nordstrom and Pete Nordstrom.

Rick Hernandez, a nine-year independent director, and lead director of the board since 2000, takes on the role of non-executive chairman upon Bruce Nordstrom's retirement.

"After serving as lead director, we feel it's a natural transition to have Rick Hernandez take on this new assignment," said Bruce Nordstrom, former chairman of the board of directors. "Blake continues to lead our company as president."