Coach Buys Luxury Shoemaker Stuart Weitzman for $574M

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Coach Inc. agreed to buy designer footwear company Stuart Weitzman for as much as $574 million, part of an an effort to revamp the luxury handbag maker’s image amid declining sales and increased competition.

Private-equity firm Sycamore Partners is selling the unit, which will add to earnings immediately, New York-based Coach said in a statement today.

The deal follows the purchase of luxury shoe brand Brian Atwood by Steven Madden Ltd. (Nasdaq: SHOO) in March. Steve Madden also picked up another shoe and apparel brand, Dolce Vita, in August. Also in August, Boston private equity firm Bain Capital walked away with a 50 percent stake in Toms.

Coach, the largest U.S. luxury-handbag maker, has been working to pull out of a slump by remodeling stores and trying to reduce discounts. Stuart Weitzman sells shoes in 70 countries and in its own retail stores in the U.S. and Europe. For Coach, the deal will burnish its brand internationally and help it move away from aggressive markdowns, said Anna Andreeva, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

“There could be some halo effect,” she said. “In Europe, the brand equity of Stuart Weitzman is substantial.”

Coach, which reported a 24 percent decline in same-store sales in North America for the quarter ended Sept. 27, has increased marketing in an attempt to regain market share lost to rivals such as Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. In June, Coach said it would close a fifth of its North American locations, or 70 stores, and in October it forecast a continued decline in comparable-store sales in fiscal 2015.

The luxury-handbag maker will pay about $530 million in cash to Sycamore Partners initially. An additional $44 million will be paid upon the achievement of revenue targets during the three years after the acquisition closes, which is expected to occur in May. Stewart Weitzman had about $300 million in sales in for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, according to the statement.

Coach, which fell 33 percent last year, rose 1 percent to $37.09 at 9:57 a.m. in New York. 

- Allison Collins contributed to this report.

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