Luxury design house Coach Inc. on Thursday said it has hired Joshua Schulman, formerly Bergdorf Goodman chief and head of Neiman Marcus’s NMG International unit, for the newly created role of CEO of the Coach brand. Schulman will report to Coach Inc. CEO Victor Luis when he steps into the job June 5, according to a press release.
The new leadership structure follows the 2015 acquisition of Stuart Weitzman and advances Coach, Inc.’s "evolution as a customer-focused, multi-brand organization,” according to a press release.
Schulman joined Neiman Marcus Group in 2012 after a stint as CEO of luxury footwear brand Jimmy Choo. He also held senior executive roles at International Strategic Alliances, Gap, Inc., Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci.
The departure of a top Neiman Marcus executive for a newly rising brand is a neat encapsulation of the decline of department stores. Neiman Marcus is reportedly in talks to be taken over by Canadian department store company Hudson’s Bay and earlier this year pulled plans for an initial public offering after its struggles only seemed to worsen after filing IPO plans two years ago.
Meanwhile, after a pivot to off-price operations battered its sales as well as its brand, Coach Inc. has turned things around under Luis. Despite its pullback from department stores and discounts, Q2 net sales rose 3.8% to $1.32 billion from $1.27 billion in the year-ago period, the company said in January, and its 1941 collection, promoted by new brand ambassador Selena Gomez, is selling at higher average prices, according to retail analysts at Jane Hali & Associates.
“We feel [Coach's] product is design-led,” Jane Hali wrote in a note emailed to Retail Dive. “As they continue to revamp their image, they offer a modern retail experience in their retail stores as well as their shops in department stores. As they continue to focus on millennials, their capsule collections with Mickey Mouse sold well. We expect the welcome of Selena Gomez to their brand will generate more hype among the millennial consumer.”
The keys to continued success: Production of goods that resonate with customers at the higher prices Coach is seeking to maintain, and a marketing strategy that gets the brand's story in front of consumers — a particular challenge considering that millennial shoppers are less likely to gravitate to a so-called “it” bag.
In his statement on Thursday, Luis said Coach will be in good hands with Schulman. “I’ve known Josh for many years and had always hoped to attract him to Coach. He lives and breathes our industry and brings a unique blend of brand building and broad retail experience to the company, making him the ideal person for this newly created role,” Luis said.