NEW YORK, United States — Coach has confirmed the appointment of Joshua Schulman as its new president and chief executive, who will join the company on June 5, as part of a wider move to focus on its long-term goal of diversifying its brand portfolio.
Schulman will be responsible for all aspects of the Coach brand, reporting directly to Victor Luis, the chief executive officer of Coach Inc., in a newly created role. He joins the company from the Neiman Marcus Group, where he currently holds the role of president of Bergdorf Goodman.
“I have been very impressed with the evolution of Coach under Stuart Vevers’ creative direction and Victor Luis’ leadership,” said Schulman in a statement. “I look forward to working with the talented global teams at Coach to build on this transformation, driving growth and relevance for the iconic brand across product categories, channels and geographies.”
His appointment comes at a key time for the leather goods house, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, as it seeks to add more brands to its portfolio, strategically positioning itself as a luxury goods group, and is the latest move to elevate Luis’ role as head of the group.
Luis has already overseen the repositioning of the Coach brand, alongside creative director Stuart Vevers, as an “approachable luxury” label, helping steer the company back to growth at a time when demand is waning for accessibly priced handbags. And his ambitions go far beyond that.
Coach Inc. is now better positioned to continue its journey as a global house of brands.
In a December 2016 interview with BoF, Luis said he believed Coach Inc. could be bigger than the Coach brand. “The priority, we’ve said clearly, is terrific brands where we can leverage the Coach know-how, which is especially strong in our ability to develop brands both internationally and domestically,” he said. “We’ve done quite well in growing the Coach business across the world, especially Asia.”
In a separate announcement, Coach promoted its current brand president Ian Bickley to the newly created role of president, global business development and strategic alliances for Coach Inc., effective from July 2, indicating the company’s interest in further expanding its portfolio in the long-term.
“Coach Inc. is now better positioned to continue its journey as a global house of brands,” said Luis in a statement. “Ian’s new appointment, together with the addition of Joshua Schulman to our seasoned group of leaders, will enable the company to focus on strategic and long-term growth opportunities across brands and businesses.”
The company was reported to have made a bid for accessories brand Kate Spade last Friday after months of speculation, and on Wednesday, Kate Spade shares closed at $19.40, its lowest level since February 15, signalling that a deal between the two firms may be imminent.
When rumours of a Kate Spade sale first emerged in November 2016, both Coach and Michael Kors immediately surfaced as potential buyers for the brand, with analysts suggesting that Coach’s long-term publicly laid-out strategy to increase shareholder value through diversifying its assets, would be a better fit.
In the past year, Coach was reported to have approached Burberry several times, as well as considering offers for Diane von Furstenberg and Rebecca Minkoff. In January 2015, Coach acquired shoemaker Stuart Weitzman for more than $500 million in cash.
Neiman Marcus announced Schulman’s departure last Friday in a statement, saying he would leave the company on May 10, with chief merchandising officer James Gold assuming his responsibilities until a replacement is found.
The Canadian department store chain is reported to have hired advisors and is exploring a possible sale of the company and its assets, just two months after it scrapped plans for an initial public offering. Hudson’s Bay Company is believed to be in the running for a possible takeover, but according to reports, the two companies have yet to come to an agreement over the structure of a possible deal.