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I have a strong retail background as a founder and owner of a small chain of high end shoe stores.

My first attraction a number of years ago to COH was the quality of their stores. Display, interchange with sales people and merchandising stores to create a sense of retail excitement was the best in retail. If one visited a high end mall you could be assured that the Coach and the Apple stores were the two busiest in the mall.

This superb presentation carried over to the "company stores" (outlets) as well.

I visited the store in the St Augustine Premium outlet earlier this week I was appalled. A manager handed me a coupon giving 50% off the lowest marked price on any item in the store. No other customer contact was made by the other associates in the store. My wife saw a coat she liked and tried to try it on. Is was displayed on hanger and had so many buttons and hooks that it took 4-5 minutes to get off the hanger to try on, no help offered as the manager looked on. Not the retail experience that would bring one back to shop for apparel.

One also needs to consider as Coach enters the shoe and apparel business how much easier the handbag and accessory business is. Inventory turns are 3-4 times greater. No sizes or widths to deal with in accessories. SKU's needed to stock a store could be 1/3 of shoe and apparel. It is the most profitable department in well run shoe stores. It is not the same business,it has a much greater margin for error due to initial margins and turns.

The magic is missing. The attention to detail it takes to run first class retail does not seem to matter at Coach.

Just my 2 cents from a graduate of the retail school of hard knocks
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