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Coach changes name in bid to broaden image

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Customers Kumiko Takahashi, Shizuyo Sakabe, and Midori Abe, from left, examine a Coach bag at one of the New York-based company’s more than 100 outlets around Japan in downtown Tokyo in 2004.

Coach Inc., the iconic New York purveyor of leather goods, is changing its corporate name to Tapestry Inc., a bid to broaden its image after acquiring the Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands.

The new moniker will take effect at the end of the month, and Coach also will change its stock symbol to TPR from COH.

“We are now at a defining moment in our corporate reinvention,” Chief Executive Officer Victor Luis said today in a statement. “In Tapestry, we found a name that speaks to creativity, craftsmanship, authenticity and inclusivity on a shared platform.”

The fashion house is building a multibrand company at a time when the handbag industry is facing waning demand and retailers are struggling with declining traffic at brick-and-mortar stores. Coach bought Kate Spade earlier this year and shoemaker Stuart Weitzman in 2015 to grow into a broader lifestyle company.

The Coach brand isn’t going anywhere, even as the company changes its corporate identity. But executives are striving to show that they aren’t dependent on the Coach business to fuel growth. The name was partly aimed at reducing the confusion that consumers have over the Coach and Kate Spade brands, Luis said in an interview.

“When Coach was one brand, that was very easy — the company and the brand were one of the same,” he said. “That’s no longer the case.”

Still, the name change didn’t go over well with investors. Coach shares fell as much as 3.2 percent to $38.72 in New York, the biggest intraday drop in two months. The stock had gained 14 percent this year through Oct . 10.

Founded in 1941, Coach has relied on its New York heritage and prestige to fend off European imports. Yet, sales began to dwindle in recent years amid competition from Kate Spade and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.

It has been selling less to department stores, a channel battered by deep discounts. Coach also has stepped up its digital marketing and tapped actress and singer Selena Gomez as brand ambassador to build buzz.

The Tapestry name, wrapped in a yellow “happy color,” is supposed to project a bright and fresh image, Luis said.

“We made a commitment to be approachable,” he said. ”It’s not something so exclusive and off-putting, but quite inviting.”

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