October 11, 2017 / 1:31 PM / in 7 days

Loyalists unhappy as Coach becomes Tapestry Inc

FILE PHOTO - A view of a Coach store in Pasadena, California, January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

(Reuters) - Iconic luxury handbag maker Coach Inc risked Wall Street and social media ire on Wednesday by announcing a change of its corporate name to Tapestry Inc, as it evolves into a multi-brand upscale retailer.

The company’s shares fell as much as 3 percent in early trading, which analysts attributed to strong results from rival LVMH on Tuesday, and to a broader selloff in the consumer discretionary space on Wednesday.

Still, social media reacted harshly to the 76-year old company changing its well-known corporate identity with many Twitter users criticizing the decision that calls for Tapestry being the holding entity that houses the Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands.

“This is bizarre & a strategy departure. Dying to know the logic,” Andrea Wasserman, a former Nordstrom and Hudson’s Bay executive, wrote on Twitter following the news.

The derision kept coming as people questioned and even mocked the move.

“$COH changing its name to ”Tapestry“ is a horrible branding idea. Fire the executive who proposed the change,” J Christian Bernabe, a nonprofit digital content director, tweeted.

Chief Executive Victor Luis, however, downplayed the social media backlash.

“At the end of the day some of the social media reaction is misplaced because people think we are changing the name of the Coach brand, which we are not doing,” Luis told Reuters. “It’s really about creating a new corporate identity for Coach as a house of brands.”

Luis added that the management had been thinking about changing the company’s corporate name for a while, but made the decision to change it after the acquisition of Kate Spade.

Founded in a loft in Manhattan in 1941, Coach has grown into a multi-billion dollar company, building its business on the success of its Coach handbags that for many years were widely coveted by wealthy women shoppers around the world.

Coach, however, lost some shine in recent years in part due to the financial recession and increased online shopping. The company is trying to regain its former glory buy buying new brands, keeping a tight lid on discounting and pulling back from department stores.

Coach bought smaller rival Kate Spade for $2.4 billion earlier this year and shoemaker Stuart Weitzman in 2015, broadening its portfolio and transforming into an upscale fashion house rather than just a pricey handbag retailer.

The company said on Wednesday the name change goes into effect on Oct. 31 and will start trading under the ticker symbol “TPR” on the New York Stock Exchange.

Coach’s shares were down 2.8 percent at $38.87 in afternoon trading.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale, Uday Sampath Kumar and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Bernard Orr

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