Should Coach Inc. have changed its name?
Coach Inc.’s decision last week to change its name to Tapestry Inc. brought more questions than praise.
The change follows the company’s acquisition of Stuart Weitzman in 2015 and Kate Spade this year as part of its strategy, initiated three years ago, to become a multi-brand conglomerate.
“We are now at a defining moment in our corporate reinvention, having evolved from a mono-brand specialty retailer to a true house of emotional, desirable brands, all leveraging our strong operational foundation,” said Victor Luis, CEO, in a statement.
Some reports questioned the wisdom of becoming a multi-brand player that will face fierce competition from European luxury players, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Kering and Richemont. Rival Michael Kors recently acquired Jimmy Choo and plans to acquire more brands.
Multi-brand conglomerates don’t always work. Nike, for one, sold off Starter, Umbro, Cole Haan and Bauer Hockey to better focus on its flagship brand. But Robin Lewis, founder of The Robin Report, believes multi-branded conglomerates are necessary, telling Forbes, “Infinite growth for a mono-brand is impossible.”
Another question was whether a shift away from the 76-year-old Coach name was necessary. A corporate name change heralds a change in direction. Among the more notable have been Google to Alphabet, Philip Morris to Altria and Kraft to Mondelez.
Mr. Luis told The New York Times that the Tapestry name declares that the company’s multi-brand strategy is “not limited to any category, channel or geography.”
Mr. Luis in a statement said the name “embodies our creative brand-led and consumer-focused business, while also representing the deep heritage of the group. Most importantly, we are establishing a strong and distinct corporate identity, which enables our brands to express their individual personalities and unique language to consumers.”
The name reminded some, however, of Carole King’s famous 1971 album. After initial panic on social media, consumers were reassured that the Coach name would remain on handbags. But changes can dismay investors. Activist investor Nelson Peltz has said the Mondelez name sounds like “a disease.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Coach’s new multi-brand strategy and new name? Are names all that significant for multi-brand conglomerates?