Victor Luis, the man who spent the last five years leading Coach's transition into a multi-brand fashion group dubbed Tapestry, has left, the company announced on Wednesday.
He took over as CEO of Coach in 2014, tasked with leading a turnaround of the faltering brand. In addition to bringing on Creative Director Stuart Vevers to help modernize and expand the brand's offering, Vevers also led acquisitions of Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade, ultimately overseeing all three brands as CEO of Tapestry, Inc. (in addition to installing new CEOs at each). The acquisitions prompted the industry to speculate whether this could become the American fashion conglomerate to rival the European giants like LVMH and Kering. But, so far at least, it's not even close.
Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman have been experiencing some growing pains since their acquisitions. In its latest earnings report from mid-August, covering fiscal 2019 and the year's fourth quarter, the company announced sluggish, worse-than-expected sales at Kate Spade, with comparable-store sales down 7 percent for the year. It also lowered its overall sales forecast for the year. Given the timing of Luis's departure, it's hard not to see a connection to these results. While he has certainly had a huge impact in evolving the company, perhaps growth at its new brands didn't come fast enough.
"I am grateful to and inspired by the more than 20,000 people who make up this incredible Company. Together we have energized the Coach brand, while creating a unique portfolio with the acquisitions of Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade," Luis said in a statement. "I am proud to have led the talented individuals at Tapestry and of the culture rooted in optimism, innovation and inclusivity that we've built. I am confident in the boundless potential of these teams and brands and very much look forward to following their future success."
A replacement for Luis has already been named: Jide Zeitlin, formerly Tapestry's Chairman of the Board, which he's served on for over a decade following over 30 years of global financial and operational experience. It's also worth noting, we think, that Zeitlin is now one of the only Black CEOs of a major fashion company — in an industry that could majorly benefit from having more people of color in such positions of power.
"I have profound belief in Tapestry's people and culture, as well as our ability to enhance returns for all stakeholders," Zeitlin said in a statement. "Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman have powerful and differentiated positioning, strong consumer connections and attractive growth potential. Together with a talented management team that combines long-tenured executives with new leaders who bring fresh perspectives, we will act with urgency to drive sustainable organic growth."
The news also comes at a busy time for Tapestry brands, with all three of them preparing to unveil their spring 2020 collections — Coach and Kate Spade at New York Fashion Week and Stuart Weitzman in Milan.