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Michelle Gass will replace Chip Bergh as Levi Strauss CEO in January

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Pedestrians walk past a Levi’s store in Hong Kong.
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Gass will take over the chief executive position on Jan. 29 while Bergh will officially retire on April 26. He will stay on as executive vice chair of the board until then. Once he retires, he will serve as an advisor through the end of the fiscal year. 

“Chip has transformed this company and will leave it far better than when he arrived. I know we will continue to benefit from Chip’s strategic perspective as he continues to serve on the company’s board,” said Bob Eckert, chairman of Levi’s board.

Bergh took over as Levi’s CEO in 2011 and is one of just a handful of people who has run the company and was not related to its original founder, Levi Strauss. During Bergh’s tenure, he led Levi’s through its March 2019 initial public offering, its acquisition of Beyond Yoga and its deeper expansion into women’s offerings.

He also transformed the company into a direct-to-consumer powerhouse that is no longer solely reliant on its wholesale partners. In doing so, he reinvigorated the Levi’s brand and kept it relevant despite its 170-year long legacy.

“The Levi’sbrand is the strongest it has ever been, and as we pivot to become more of an omni-channel, direct-to-consumer retailer, it is time for new leadership,” Bergh said in a statement. “While I’ve known Michelle for more than a decade, my time working closely with her this past year has given me great confidence that her experience, track record of innovation and impact, and passion for the business will position the company for sustainable, profitable growth and significant shareholder and stakeholder value creation.”

Levi’s appointed Gass as its next CEO in November 2022. She started at Levi’s in January, and was responsible for leading the company’s namesake brand, including its product, merchandising and marketing functions, along with its digital and global commercial operations. She has set her sights on boosting international growth and transitioning the company into a direct-to-consumer first organization.

“I am honored to be stepping in to lead this iconic brand and company, one that I have deeply admired and respected for many years. Levi’s is more than a denim icon; it’s part of our cultural fabric and an enduring symbol of quality, innovation and progress,” Gass said in a statement.

Similar to many retailers, Levi’s has struggled to get consumers to spend on apparel as inflation straps shoppers’ budgets. In October, the company cut its full-year sales forecast for the second time this year, saying it expects net revenues in a range of flat to up 1% this year.

Levi Strauss shares have fallen 1% this year, trailing the roughly 19% gain in the S&P 500.

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