Upscale retailer Nordstrom Inc on Thursday reported an 18 per cent increase in quarterly earnings, lifted by stronger sales and lower administrative costs.

Net earnings were $60 million, or $0.44 per diluted share, for the three months ended 31 January 2003. For the same period last year, net earnings were $50.7 million and earnings per diluted share were $50.7 million.

The retailer said net sales were up 7.3 per cent, to $1.8 billion, compared to sales of $1.6 billion in the same period last year.

For fiscal 2002, net earnings were down 28 per cent to $90.2 million, from $124.7 million last year. This includes a $71.0 million charge related to the cumulative effect of an accounting change, the purchase of a minority interest in and associated reintegration costs, and the write-down of an IT investment.

Fiscal 2002 net sales of $6.0 billion increased 6.1 per cent, compared to $5.6 billion in the same period in 2001.