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NEW YORK CITY-High streets have brought low returns for Coach, leading the chain to shutter units on some of the United States’ toniest streets, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call.

The company will close four units this year: Greenwich, CT; Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, FL; Green Valley Ranch outside Las Vegas; and the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

“The reality is that rents are the highest in the tony areas,” said Lew Frankfort, Chairman and CEO, adding that foot traffic has declined the most on these streets. “They are very expensive to operate.”

The company will open 20 new stores in the coming fiscal year, down from the 40 opened in each of the last two years. Six of the stores will open in Canada, and 13 in new markets for Coach. Store expansions have been suspended.

In Japan, the company expects to open seven net new units, up from five locations in fiscal 2009. China will see 10 new locations.

Sales were $740 million, down 1% from the third quarter of 2008. North American comparable store sales declined 4.2%, and rose 1% in Japan on a constant-currency basis. Comps in China rose at a “double-digit rate”. Earnings were $123 million, down 24% from the previous year.

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