Coach, Inc.

Coach, Inc.
Coach, Inc.
Type Public (NYSECOH)
Founded Manhattan, New York (1941)
Headquarters 516 West 34th Street
New York, New York 10001
United States
Number of locations 730 (July 2011)[1]
Key people Lewis Frankfort, CEO,
Jerry Stritzke, President,
Michael F. Devine III, CFO
Products Handbags, women's and men's accessories, cases, watches, footwear, eyewear
Revenue increase US$3.23 Billion (FY 2009)[2]
Operating income increase US$977 Million (FY 2009)[2]
Net income increase US$623 Million (FY 2009)[2]
Total assets increase US$800 Million (FY 2009)[3]
Total equity increase US$1.70 Billion (FY 2009)[3]
Employees approx. 12,000 (2011)[4]
A Coach purse

Coach, Inc. (NYSECOH) is an upscale American leather goods company known for ladies' and men's handbags, as well as items such as luggage, briefcases, wallets and other accessories (belts, shoes, scarves, umbrellas, sunglasses, key chains, etc.). Coach also offers watches and footwear.


Coach was founded in 1941, in a loft in New Jersey, New York.[5] as a partnership called the Gail Manufacturing Company. Gail Manufacturing Company began as a family-owned business, with six leatherworkers who made small leather goods, such as wallets and handbags. In 1946, Miles Cahn and his wife Lillian joined the company. Miles and Lillian Cahn were owners of a leather handbag manufacturing business, and were knowledgeable about leatherworks and business. By 1950, Cahn had taken over the business and was running it mainly himself. The workers continued to manufacture small leather goods, like wallets, for small profits into the 1970s. In 1977 the Coach brand of wallets and other small leather goods was introduced. In 1961, Gail Leather Products, Inc. was formed.[6] In the 1960s, Cahn did further research on leather and discovered a very complex method for processing leather to make it strong, soft, and durable. At the suggestion of his wife, a number of women's handbags were designed to be more affordable.[5] In the early 1960s, handbags were added to the Coach lineup. Coach women's handbags were made out of sturdy cowhide, which was of much better quality than the thin leather pasted over cardboard material that was used to make other handbags at the time. This catapulted Coach to a prominent standing among high quality leather products.[5]

Through the 1960s, Gail Leather Products also produced other brands, such as Red Lion and Westminster.

During the early 1960s, Cahn hired Bonnie Cashin to work for Coach.[7] Cashin was already a well-known fashion designer prior to joining Coach; however, this deal proved to be one of her most well-known business alliances. Cashin worked for Coach from 1962 until 1974, and revolutionized their product design.[7] Known as an innovator, she instituted the inclusion of side pockets, coin purses, and brighter colors (as opposed to the usual hues of browns and tans) onto the bags.[5] Cashin also designed matching shoes, pens, key fobs and eyewear, and added hardware to her clothes and accessories alike, particularly the silver toggle that became the Coach hallmark, declaring that she had been inspired by a memory of quickly fastening the top on her convertible sports car. Due to the success that Cashin brought Coach, they ran their first ad in the New Yorker in 1963.[5]

In the mid 1970s, production of handbags in New York City ended, and was moved elsewhere in the United States. Around the same time, the company changed its name to Coach Products, Inc.[6]

Business was strong throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Products were in high demand, and under a new vice president for special products, Coach started a mail-order business. They also owned specialty stores, and began to sell Coach bags outside of department stores. Sales increased, and soon demand was greater than the supply. Eventually, Coach would restrict sales to hand-selected vendors. In 1979, Lewis Frankfort, Coach's current CEO, joined the company as vice-president of business development. He was mentored by the then executive vice president, Richard Rose. Rose was a maverick and is responsible for turning the Coach brand into a household name.

In 1980, the company changed its name to Coach Leatherware Company, Inc.[6] In 1983, the Cahns purchased a 300-acre (1.2 km2) dairy farm in upstate New York that they operated under the name "Coach Farm". It was intended to be a vacation spot away from the New York Coach office, but instead they commuted 2 hours every week from New York City to their upstate farm.

516 West 34th Street

The Cahns decided to sell Coach.[5] In 1985 [8][9], Coach was sold to Sara Lee Corporation for $30 million dollars. The Cahns retained ownership of the original corporate entity, Coach Leatherware Company, Inc., originally Gail Leather Products, Inc., which was now renamed The Coach Farm Corporation,[6] and produced goat cheese under the Coach Farm trademark. The Coach Farm Corporation continued to be headquartered at the Coach headquarters at 516 West 34th Street in New York. Sara Lee took over the factories, the 6 boutiques, and its main store on Madison Avenue in New York City. Shortly after, new boutiques were opened in Macy's stores in New York and San Francisco. Additional Coach stores were under construction in Denver and Seattle, and similar boutiques were to be opened in other major department stores later in the year. Coach also opened mall storefronts in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and California. By November, the company was operating 12 stores, along with nearly 50 boutiques within larger department stores.

Sara Lee divested itself of Coach first by selling 19.5% of their shares of Coach at the Coach IPO in October of 2000, followed in April 2001 with the distribution of their remaining shares to Sara Lee’s stockholders through an exchange offer.[8]

In 2011 the company announced that their headquarters would move from 516 West 34th St to the nearby Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project[10]

Coach Inc. has distribution, product development, and quality control operations in the United States, France, Italy, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea.

Coach's International Sales Information in 2004[11]

Geographic Region Total revenue ($ in thousands)
North America 982,668
Japan 278,011
Other International 60,427

Lewis Frankfort took the position of president of the firm. Frankfort transformed Coach from the relatively small company that it was in 1985 into the worldwide known brand that it is today.[7] He is also known for making Coach bags affordable. Up until the 1990s, women's handbags were either very expensive, or very inexpensive department store knock-offs. Coach was the middle ground between the two, therefore filling a gap in the market.[7] Today, Coach operates 25 stores in the United States that carry full Coach collections, including women's footwear, men's briefcases and the new jewelry line. Six are located in New York City and two in Hawaii. Other locations are in East Hampton, NY, Short Hills, NJ, Philadelphia, Nashville, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Scottsdale, Seattle, Washington D.C., Omaha, and Westchester County, New York.


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