Coach Inc. is hoping a hotelier can help it find its sparkle again.
Hyatt Hotels executive Gebhard Rainer will join Coach on Sept. 29 as president and chief operating officer. The appointment joins an executive with extensive international experience with a company counting on overseas growth as the brand seeks to give a much-needed jolt to its products under new executive creative director Stuart Vevers and get back to growth in North America. Last year, North American sales fell 11 percent, sliding 16 percent in the fourth quarter alone.
Rainer will succeed Jerry Stritzke, who left Coach 13 months ago and subsequently was named president and chief executive officer of Recreational Equipment Inc., the Seattle-based outdoor gear and apparel retailer more popularly known as REI. Stritzke’s departure was somewhat expected after he lost out on the ceo job at Coach to Victor Luis. He was also mentioned as a possible successor to Christine Day as ceo of Lululemon Athletica Inc., a post that went to Laurent Potdevin.
Rainer was most recently executive vice president and chief financial officer of Hyatt Hotels Corp. and had previously served as managing director of the hotel chain’s business in the Europe, Africa and Middle East regions. During his tenure with Hyatt, Rainer lived in the Caribbean, the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe and the U.S.
Luis, to whom Rainer will report, praised his “strategic focus, team leadership, keen analytical and technical skills and exceptional business acumen.” He also pointed to Rainer’s experience in “brand-building for a high-touch experiential consumer business.”
Rainer will have responsibility for finance, information systems, logistics, operations and production.
He will need to bring all his expertise to bear as Coach rushes to reinvent itself under Luis and Vevers and seize the momentum back from fast-growing competitor Michael Kors. Net income for the year ended June 28 fell 24.5 percent to $781.3 million, while revenues declined 5.3 percent to $4.81 billion. The company expects low-double-digit revenue declines in its current fiscal year, when it plans to close about 70 of its full-price stores in North America, and it has hired Baron & Baron to handle advertising, ending its relationship with Laird + Partners.
On a day when U.S. equity markets drifted downward, shares of Coach fell 69 cents, or 1.9 percent, to close at $36.66. That’s 36.7 percent below the 52-week high of $57.95 reached on Nov. 29, although 9.8 percent above the corresponding low of $33.39 dating back to July 16.