Coach Store Closings

It’s no secret that Coach is in flux. After the departure of longtime creative head Reed Krakoff, the company has decided to pivot its public image in a more fashion-savvy direction. First, that meant bringing on handbag savant Stuart Vevers, late of Loewe and Mulberry, and allowing him to set a tone for the brand’s aesthetic future. The next step, it appears, is shifting its retail strategy – there are going to be far fewer Coach stores in the near future, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Last week, Coach announced that it would close 70 under-performing North American stores in the first half of 2015, which is likely wise, considering the more fashionable and expensive direction that Vevers intends to take the brand. Just from my own observation while visiting my parents in Georgia, Coach has many stores in suburban malls with few (if any) other luxury retailers and little in the way of a luxury customer base, and while it may have long been possible to sell $300 handbags in those markets, Coach’s desire to raise its prices to line up with a more fashion-focused product line will probably make sustaining business at those locations untenable.

In addition to the closures, remaining Coach boutiques will get a new concept that’s more in line with the brand’s new aesthetic direction, starting with flagships in major markets like New York City.

For bargain-savvy shoppers, both Coach’s promotional schedule and its outlet strategy are shifting. The brand indicates that it will move to a biannual sale schedule, which is in line with other luxury brands and retailers. In the past, Coach’s sales and promotions had been more diffuse, and customers who are used to waiting for their discount cards to come in the mail for multiple mid-season events per year will likely be disappointed in the tightening of the markdown reins.

At the outlets, product assortment will be the biggest shift. Only two locations will close, and in the remaining stores, the now-ubiquitous logo bags will make way for a wider variety of leather options. We’ve heard some irritation from our Forum members about the lack of leather at the Coach outlets, so perhaps this news will create some satisfied customers. WWD didn’t make it clear whether the logo options would be scuttled from the outlets altogether or just drastically reduced, so we’ll have to wait and see.

All of these changes come on the tail of news about Coach’s sinking profits, and 2015 is expected to be a rough year while the brand attempts to right itself. Do you have high hopes for Coach?

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  • Adrianne

    This makes me very happy!!! I had strayed away from Coach because of the market saturation of the logo purses….which I can’t stand! I much prefer leather unless I’m buying a Louis. It had been years since I had purchased a Coach bag until I found a gorgeous Madison Hair Calf and Ostrich satchel through the online outlet sales. It will be nice to see the company go back to its roots an put out more leather/quality bags instead if the cheap/ trendy logo signature line.

    • Monaco

      I completely agree. I do not currently own a coach purse because of the saturation of the logo on every bag. This isn’t the 00s anymore and no fashionista want to be a walking billboard.

  • Sandy

    Yes, I hope they can turn it around. I do not purchase Coach at this point in my life but I certainly did was I was younger. I think Coach is a wonderful mid-priced option. Not everyone can afford premiere designer goods and Coach is a well made reasonably priced alternative.

  • Jan

    I’ve only recently (in the last year) had the money to indulge myself with multiple handbags, and Coach is the only thing I’ve ever had. My first wallet and handbag were gifts from my mother. I’m sentimental when it comes to the brand. Everything I have is leather, no logos. Weeding those bags out is a good move. This latest wave that hit the website a couple of days ago had me running to the local Coach store. What I see right now is…me, and what could still interest me in the future–gunmetal hardware that I’d love to have, but… I feel an urgency to buy because after looking at the upcoming Fall collection I’m just not sure. I like the overall theme, but the word “edit” keeps resounding in my head. I need a wallet and a couple of wristlets would be nice, but I haven’t seen pictures of what’s up and coming for accessories. I wish Coach would give us more of a transition period from old to new.

  • Lori

    Coach really has to find their target buyer to get the market back. And what about all those logo loving ladies? What happens to them? I think Coach is having an identity crisis and in order to figure out how to save themselves, they first need to figure out their market. Because really… do we need another Gucci? Or do we need a quality Coach for people who can’t afford $1000 for an “inexpensive” designer bag?

    • http://www.visualimaginings.com MrMotivations

      Insightful, IMO. When we first started buying Coach bags, the leather was “H” weight, and the bags tended to be ultra conservative looking, kinda clunky. But they were selling these types into the 1990′s. For my tastes, they represented “a quality Coach for people who can’t afford $1000…” Perhaps, they never were the definition of a “designer” bag company, and again, IMO, I believe they have a brand identity problem with the group who would casually spend $1k+ for a bag. Now, to put this in perspective, I buy some of their conservative totes to carry camera equipment in…My wife, a few more colorful items I bought for her for everyday wear. We hold some shares of the company stock, however, and I do believe that they are more likely to be purchased rather than go out of business. They are big in China. Now is a good time to buy a bit of their stock, hold onto it. But what do I know?

  • Aurora

    I think that to appeal to a customer base at a higher price point, paring or eliminating the signature bags is a smart move, especially from the outlets. So many girls and young women carry inexpensive signature bags that they can find at the outlet for under $100, and the plethora of them on the street makes them seem commonplace. As someone who is a fan of Coach leather bags, this strategy makes me very happy. The upswing in prices for boutique bags is something that I’m still getting used to. I don’t plan on deserting Coach for Michael Kors or Kate Spade, because I simply do not like the quality of those bags, but with the Coach price point going up I’ll probably end up buying fewer bags than I have the last several years… which is probably a good thing for my wallet!

  • Brielle

    Coach started my bag obsession about 10 years ago and they hold a special place in my heart. They can make a wonderful bag….comparable in quality to LV, Givenchy, Mulberry and Balenciaga (of which I have a bag from each of these companies to compare. This only includes Coach’s higher priced leather bags…not the fabric bags). I am thrilled to see the change with bags turning over to the outlet every other month. That reason alone is why I left…pay $500 for a new bag and find it for 60% off and in the outlet bin a few weeks later. They will turn it around but it will take some time. I’m doubtful that they will be able to get customers to pay $1k though. Also, I wish they would make a staple bag…ala Speedy, Alexa or City. Same bag that is tweaked in its color and hardware choice each season.

    • WhosThatBag

      I would consider the Bucket Bag to be a Coach signature look. They should maintain this bag year-round. It’s not the most fancy, but it’s practical and timeless.

  • ami

    When I started my interest with bags 10 years ago it was all high-end brands for me: LV, Gucci, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, YSL, etc. As the years go by, the price points of these brands have gone up astronomically and though I could still afford the bags I scoff at the prices and could not get myself to fork over so much money. Now I’m a fan of Marc by Marc Jacobs. I went inside a Coach boutique over the weekend and was surprised with how different and sophisticated the new bags looked at prices which even I would approve of. I walked away with a baby blue Madison North/South tote in saffiano leather which was on sale.

  • Abbi

    I hope they dont price all their pieces above $2K…im liking the new designs but not that much and it would be a shame to see it go down the Mulberry road…

  • Cass@

    I have high hopes for them. I have only purchased one leather bag from them 10 years ago and stopped when they started becoming the new mallrat bag. To me these changes are necessary and are clear enough that I think will help them greatly long term.

  • Susie

    Never had any interest in their bags.

    This may just change that.

  • Betty Jean Boyd-Barrolle

    I do love Coach,it is my go to brand,I am not a fan of the over saturated logo styles and own some of the older limited logo styles which I still love and use,but this is a needed move for sure.I hope Coach can turn this around because the quality has never let me down.

  • jburgh

    My first nice bag was a Coach, and it was 1974 when Bonnie Cashin was their designer. It was and still is a beautiful leather bag. I may support them again if they bring their products back to the US for manufacture.

  • Alex575

    Coach really needed to do something. The other issue I had with Coach was the beginning of the “EBay Coach Factory” which, I’m guessing, was a beta online outlet (to see if there was a market) and evidently there was since they now have their own Coach Factory online store. Unfortunately, the quality of the bags, which I learned from Purse Forum, were second rate (no dustbag, cheaper flimsy leather etc.) and made specifically to sell at the outlet stores. This really turned me off on the brand because it was like a bait and switch; I thought that the bags were older models that were discounted because they were out of style, but not so.

    If they want to make a cheaper/inexpensive line than they should call it something other than Coach, ie “Marc by Marc Jacobs,” “McQ” etc., but the way they did it I no longer shop with Coach.

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  • FashionableLena

    Because alienating their customer base worked so well for Mulberry…
    Most of my Coach bags are vintage. I do own 1 logo bag, and I love it because it’s perfect for rainy days. Most of the women I work with (I’m a teacher) love Coach, but I doubt they would spend more than $300-400 for one of their bags. Unfortunate because I would hate for them to lose the middle class to cater to an economic class that isn’t interested in their bags.

  • Doro

    It’s interesting you feel substantial business may be untenable due to a lack of luxury customer base in your parents town or city. I live north of Georgia about 200 or so miles and there aren’t many luxury brands available in the mid size city where I live but the luxury brands are being bought and worn by many people. Just walking in our mall with my daughter visiting from out of town we saw LV, Prada, Burberry, YVL and many more. My daughter was carrying a Mulberry and I was carrying a Gucci. It is not unusual and it is frequent to see these bags everywhere including grocery stores. And no these were not fakes although there are always those. So here’s hoping there is enough interest in a high quality Coach brand so this American company can survive.

  • Lola

    Coach is not a well-known brand in Europe among young people. I have purchased a vintage leather bag from them on ebay (20 USD) from the 70′s a few years ago, because I loved the shape of the bag. When it arrived I was surprised by its great quality. Now this bag is my favorite festival going, hobo style bag and it gets often favored over my Balenciaga, R&B or LV Postbag. It’s something different and people want to know what is the brand. It’s funny, but actually I have got today a leather Coach Satchel as a gift from someone who did not know the brand, but fell in love with the quality and the work for “THAT” price in an outlet… no logo, lovely red color, “classic meets modern” kind of design. I believe what they need is a proper and clear sales strategy & image definition. If they add brand heritage to a talented designer and a competitive branding team to reposition/redefine Coach on the market with a clear vision, they could fix their identity crisis.

  • Kathy1653

    I love Coach, Dooney and Rebecca Minkoff purses. They are all affordable. I cannot even imagine spending $1500 on a purse. I haven’t pursed Dooney in a long time because they lost their style and touch a few years ago. Rebecca…..I purchase all the time from her site when there is a sale. Her leather is to die for………..Many many many years ago I started purchasing Coach. Their purses are so classy. I just ordered a logo one that has leather. hahaha……Hope I don’t regret that……….The ONE complaint I have about all these companies is that they are all using the sarrafino leather. What is up with that? Anyway I will remain a faithful Coach purchaser.

  • Casey

    When it comes to quality, Coach bags really do outlast bags that are 10x more expensive. So I’m excited to see the new direction of the brand, and I wouldn’t mind if I never had to see the Coach fabric ever again.

  • XXL

    Since this strategy didn’t work for Mulberry, I don’t think it will work for coach. Mulberry is a brand I have learned to love and respect and I really wish it succeeded in its attempts. But the facts are in, brands need to learn their place. Coach has an established reputation as an affordable brand. Anyone who is willing to pay more will probably choose LV etc.

  • James

    Coach wow.. When I heared that name, years ago, I used to imagine wealth, money, class, it was just fancy.. I got my wife about 5 handbags! She loved them!! Now, we see coach. As a regular even cheap brand.. I don’t have them, same fellings for coach, nor does my wife. I don’t see them making a comeback. We won’t ever buy coach again, they lost their edge!!! Maybe Walmart would be there future

  • Sandi

    They need to go back to doing what they do best. Make mid priced, high quality bags for the American consumer. If they want to go high end, follow the auto industry and spin off a branch of Coach for that market. I’m distraught by this new direction and fear the end of the Coach we all know and love. Such a shame. Maybe next time do better market research before you bet the farm, that is, if you get a next time.

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