LONDON — Coach has parked itself in the heart of Mayfair with a new Bond Street store — its first European flagship — that houses the brand’s full lifestyle offer and an exclusive collection inspired by London.
The store, in the former Mulberry space at 41 New Bond Street, spans 5,000 square feet over two floors and stocks the women’s and men’s collections. It is the second Coach store to open here: A 3,000-square-foot unit opened at the Westfield mall in west London earlier this year.
The feeling of the new store is clean, bright and upbeat with white marble floors, distressed, antique-looking mirrors, a dramatic staircase worthy of a descent by Auntie Mame, and pops of color in the form of tailor’s dummies covered in the brand’s bright legacy stripe.
“This store is a beacon for the brand. It allows us to bring the whole world of Coach to the U.K., to showcase it not only an accessories brand, but as a lifestyle one,” said Ian Bickley, president of Coach International, during a walk-through on Tuesday.
“We feel the opportunity for Coach in Europe is significant, and we are here for the long term.”
The store has been trading since late August, but will have its official opening on Thursday night during Fashion’s Night Out. Gwyneth Paltrow, a brand ambassador who appears in the latest ad campaign — in all markets except for North America and Japan — will host a private party with British Vogue editor in chief Alexandra Shulman.
Tonight, Paltrow will be the guest of honor at a VIP dinner at the Arts Club in Mayfair. The brand has covered 50 London taxis in the signature stripe, and the cars will run around town all day today and Thursday.
Bickley said the new store reflects Coach’s “most elevated shop fit,” and is inspired by the Bleecker Street unit in New York. The ground floor houses men’s and women’s collections, as well as the 41 Collection — three leather bags made exclusively for the new store, and named after London addresses Mayfair, W1 and Bond. Prices range from 425 pounds, or $680, to 695 pounds, or $1,112, and the capsule collection aims to appeal to Europeans’ particular penchant for leather goods.
On the ground floor is the men’s area, which has a completely different feel, with an exposed brick wall and chocolate-colored interiors. A men’s leather tote and weekend bag have been created as part of the 41 Collection.
Upstairs, there are pieces on display from the Coach archive in New York, including the original unlined leather Dinky and Duffle bucket bags. The Coach Classics and Kristin collections are also housed on the upper floor, along with a VIP room.
Bickley confirmed that Coach is on the move in Britain, and is already looking at space for a shop on Regent Street. The brand will also begin wholesaling the collection to department stores within the next 12 months.
Industry sources said Coach is mulling units in Knightsbridge and a men’s shop in Canary Wharf, although these projects are not confirmed.
“Our strategy in the U.K. is a multichannel one, and we are looking at other locations and neighborhood catchment areas in London, where our focus is right now,” he said.
Bickley declined to reveal first-year sales projections for the store. Real estate sources in London said Coach is leasing the property and paying an annual rent of 1.05 million pounds, or $1.68 million. One source said that, considering the rent, the company should expect to be turning over about 10.5 million pounds, or $16.8 million, annually.
Bickley said Coach has high hopes for Europe. At present, about 90 percent of the brand’s sales of $4.16 billion come from the U.S. and Japan.
Western Europe currently represents 25 percent of the global accessories market, and Bickley said Coach plans to grab 3 to 5 percent of that market share over the next several years. “It’s a huge white space for us and a growth opportunity for the future,” he said.
Last October, Coach Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Lew Frankfort told WWD that Coach was aiming for a $250 million European business in five years time. Coach has been expanding in Europe via a 50-50 joint venture with the British men’s wear brand Hackett, which is owned by Pepe Jeans SL.
Last year, Coach opened a clutch of boutiques at the French department store Printemps.
Bickley said those stores are reporting “strong double-digit” growth compared with last year. “Europe is going to be a journey for us,” he said. “But we are committed to it for the long term.”