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Deborah Lloyd Exits Kate Spade, Nicola Glass Appointed Creative Director

Glass, who currently oversees accessories design at Michael Kors, was tapped by Tapestry, which acquired the brand in May.
Source: Kate Spade
  • Chantal Fernandez

NEW YORK, United StatesTapestry, the company formerly known as Coach Inc., announced Wednesday that Kate Spade creative director Deborah Lloyd will exit the company. Lloyd will be replaced by Nicola Glass, a veteran of Michael Kors, in January 2018. Lloyd made the decision to leave the brand, known for its whimsical and feminine design, following Tapestry's acquisition of Kate Spade & Co. in May for $2.4 billion.

"[Lloyd] has been an amazing partner in the short time that I've worked with her," says Tapestry's chief executive Victor Luis. "There are very few individuals who come into a brand at approximately $100 million as creative director, as she did 10 years ago, and then lead it to over $1.3 billion dollars in sales."

After taking senior roles at Burberry and Banana Republic, Lloyd transformed Kate Spade from a well-loved quirky handbag label into a global brand — across multiple categories, from homeware to jewelry — with serious commercial reach.

"Our brand promise is to help our girl live an interesting life, to live her life in colour, in every sense of the word, it is not just about offering colour, it is about living life to the full," said Lloyd to BoF in 2013. "Whereas Michael Kors is jet set, Tory [Burch] is, you were born with a Tory Burch silver spoon, you know American aristocracy — [Kate Spade] is about encouraging our girl to live this colourful life."

Luis says Glass, who currently oversees accessories for Michael Kors, was the right choice to lead the next chapter of Kate Spade because of her prior experience at a global brand, her ability to manage large teams and her expertise in the handbag and accessories space, Kate Spade’s core business. Glass also understands Kate Spade’s fun and fashionable DNA and how to “interpret it in a very modern way,” says Luis.

And as Tapestry focuses on growing Kate Spade globally, Glass's personal history as a global citizen was also important: she was born in Belfast, studied in Edinburgh and London, and has work experience in Asia and the Philippines as well as at Gucci in Italy, where she worked prior to joining Michael Kors in 2004. "That gives us tremendous confidence in her understanding of the global customer and of how brands need to communicate their story to the global customer," says Luis.

Since finalising the acquisition of Kate Spade in June, Tapestry has focused on reinforcing the Kate Spade design team, particularly in handbag and accessories, by reallocating talent internally and making select external hires. The brand still needs a chief executive, however. Glass will report to Luis, who is also acting as Kate Spade's brand president and chief executive in an interim capacity. Luis had no information to share about the search’s progress.

On Tuesday, Tapestry reported the results of the first quarter with Kate Spade in its portfolio. While Kate Spade’s total comparable sales declined 9 percent, Luis was pleased that comparable sales at bricks-and-mortar stores were down just 3 percent globally, an improvement from a decline of 8 percent in the previous quarter. (The overall sales decline was mostly attributed to the pull back on flash sales.)

Tapestry is also taking advantage of operational efficiencies: the company doubled its 2019 synergies target from $50 million to about $100 to $115 million. Coach, however, struggled in the last quarter, with net sales decreasing 3 percent to $924 million, due to both natural disasters in North America and Asia and problems with the inventory mix at the end of the fourth quarter, specifically in the North America outlet channel.

“As we head into the second quarter we are in a much better position,” says Luis, adding that Coach is responding to an increased demand for products featuring its logo, which the band has been cautiously reducing over the last three years as it enacted a design turnaround. The spring 2018 campaign will feature a logo bag for the first time in a decade. “We now feel it is the time to bring it out and do so in a very careful way, where we are managing its exclusively and balancing that with the scale of the business.”

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