Move is part of management strategy to create an American luxury conglomerate
The corporate name-change game has a new player: Coach Inc. COH 0.38% is becoming Tapestry Inc., attempting to reflect the multiple brands, including Kate Spade, now under the company’s umbrella.
Founded in 1941 as a maker of leather goods and accessories, Coach didn’t acquire another company until 74 years later when it bought Stuart Weitzman, an upscale shoe brand known for its over-the-knee boots. In July, it completed the purchase of Kate Spade & Co., a maker of handbags, apparel, shoes and other accessories that previously had participated in some renaming of its own.
Coach bags, accessories and stores will continue to carry the brand name. The change to the parent company’s name is part of a strategy by Coach Inc. Chief Executive Victor Luis, who has set out to create an American luxury conglomerate modeled after LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Kering SA, home to Gucci, Balenciaga and other European designer brands.
“As Coach Inc. moved from being just Coach the brand, we wanted a corporate name that would eliminate confusion and allow each of our brands to express their own narrative,” Mr. Luis said in an interview Wednesday. “We wanted a name that would allow us to grow in the future and wouldn’t limit us to a category or specific geography.”
Coach’s name change, which takes effect Oct. 31, is the latest in a long line of corporate rebranding efforts, some more successful than others.
Google Inc. restructured into Alphabet Inc. Tribune Publishing Co. was truncated to Tronc Inc. Philip Morris Co. morphed into Altria Group Inc. Pinault-Printemps Redoute abbreviated itself to PPR before adopting the entirely new name of Kering.
Liz Claiborne Inc. was re-christened Fifth & Pacific Inc. and then Kate Spade & Co. Designer Kate Spade herself, no longer affiliated with the company, changed her name to Kate Valentine to reflect her new shoe and handbag line, Frances Valentine.
And earlier this year, Verizon Communications Inc. said its newly acquired Yahoo and AOL businesses would be housed under the name Oath.
Companies rename themselves for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is to escape unwanted associations.
“ Time Warner had a reputation for poor service,” said Bob Killian, the founder of Killian Branding, referring to the cable company that changed its name to Spectrum after its 2016 acquisition by Charter Communications Inc. “The name change was an attempt to change consumer perceptions of the company.” A spokesman for Charter said the company already had begun renaming its cable operations Spectrum before the acquisition, and changed Time Warner’s name to have one consistent brand.
This week, The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported that Weinstein Co. is considering changing its name amid allegations that Harvey Weinstein, its former co-chairman, sexually harassed women for decades.
In the case of Coach, the new name reflects a new corporate structure. Tapestry was chosen because it represents “the idea of weaving together the brands to form something beautiful,” a spokeswoman for Coach said.
“What’s important in choosing a name is telling a story,” said Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimple Consulting. “A story about weaving together brands is not a bad approach.”
But corporate rebranding rarely resonates beyond Wall Street, he said. “For most people, it will still be the company that owns Coach.”