Bag maker Coach 'looking at shoes'

People waiting in line to enter a Coach factory outlet store  at Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles, California, on Dec 26, 2014. The  accessories retailer  is nearing a deal to buy privately held women's luxury shoe company Stuart Weitzma
People waiting in line to enter a Coach factory outlet store  at Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles, California, on Dec 26, 2014. The  accessories retailer  is nearing a deal to buy privately held women's luxury shoe company Stuart Weitzman Holdings for about US$600 million (S$800.7 million). -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Accessories retailer Coach is nearing a deal to buy privately held women's luxury shoe company Stuart Weitzman Holdings for about US$600 million (S$800.7 million), according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deal could be announced as early as this week, the person said.

New York-based Coach, known for its Poppy handbags, has struggled to keep up with its fast-growing affordable luxury competitors, particularly Kate Spade & Co and Michael Kors Holdings, whose handbags are rapidly gaining popularity in North America.

Buyout firm Sycamore Partners acquired Stuart Weitzman last year as part of its US$2.2 billion purchase of Jones Group, the fashion company that owns retail chains Nine West and Jones New York.

Stuart Weitzman operates 45 retail stores across the United States and also has 62 elsewhere.

The Wall Street Journal reported the deal earlier on Monday.

Early in December, Reuters reported that footwear retailer Brown Shoe Company was trying to acquire Stuart Weitzman Holdings.

Brown Shoe was competing against other potential suitors, that include private equity firms and financial investors, the sources had said.

Coach shares jumped in December, with traders citing a retail industry news website report that French luxury products company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA was interested in buying the handbag maker.

Coach shares closed down 1.6 percent at $36.73 on Monday.