Coach plans new concept store

Coach (NYSE: COH) stores will soon be getting a makeover as the brand seeks to refresh retail locations and attract more shoppers.

The first redesigned store will be located at the brand's 3,909-square-foot Rodeo Drive flagship in Beverly Hills, with a fall opening. While the company is remaining tight-lipped on exactly how the store will look, the upgrades will be vastly different from anything the brand has ever done.

"[The store] plays homage to what makes Coach unique. It's about doing something that feels genuinely authentic to Coach, but very much looks to the future. It's a bold departure. It's going to feel like a new message from Coach," Stuart Vevers, executive creative director, told Women's Wear Daily.

Once the Rodeo Drive store is complete, Manhattan's Time Warner Center location is the next slated remodel. New York is currently home to Coach's most recent concept store, which was rolled out in November at the Fifth Avenue location. The store there was designed as a "lab" to test ideas and concepts for future stores. The space is more intimate and upscale than a typical Coach store, but Vevers said the new pilot stores will be a departure from the "lab" stores.

"The biggest lesson is that the customer responds to a new space very well," said Vevers. "But the concept is a new concept. There's nothing necessary in terms of design that is carried through [from Fifth Avenue]."

Merchants have been busily upgrading retail spaces as they look to increase foot traffic in a retail environment where online sales are surging. Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN) last week unveiled its new concept store, Space Ninety 8 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The store is five levels with several new features including an event space for a marketplace of local designers and a restaurant and bar with outdoor dining. Walmart (NYSE: WMT) opened its first Walmart to Go convenience store on March 15 in Bentonville, Ark. The concept store is another pilot for Walmart as it expands the number of small-format stores.

The new store design will be a much-needed boost for Coach, which in the most recent quarter, reported the lowest same-store sales in 13 years. North American sales fell 9 percent to $983 million in the second quarter ended Dec. 28. Overall revenue fell 5.6 percent to $1.42 billion, while net income fell to $297.4 million.

Growing competition from rivals Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Kate Spade have eaten away at Coach's market share. Coach also has been in the midst of a major management transition, with Victor Luis's appointment to CEO, replacing Lewis Frankfort after 45 years, and the departures of its North American group president and COO in July. The retailer also parted ways last year with its executive creative director, Reed Krakoff.

For more see:
-this Women's Wear Daily article

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