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Friday, February 23, 2024

Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh to retire, promotes president Michelle Gass to top job

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Levi Strauss & Co. announced on Thursday that Chip Bergh has decided to retire from the U.S. company as of April 26, 2024, with Michelle Gass, currently president, slated to takeover as CEO of the firm, effective January 29.

Levi’s

In addition, the board has elected Bergh as executive vice chair of the board until his retirement date. Bergh will then transition to the role of senior advisor until the end of the company’s 2024 fiscal year, the San Francisco-based company added.

“We would like to thank Chip for his inspirational leadership and unwavering commitment to the company over the last 12-plus years,” said Bob Eckert, chairman of the Levi Strauss board of directors.

“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.”

During his time at Levi’s, Bergh was credited for evolving the company into “one of the world’s best apparel companies,” advancing the Levi’s business from a predominantly men’s U.S. wholesale bottoms business to a global, DTC-driven one, in addition to reinvigorating the women’s business.

The company added that Bergh also “revitalized the Levi’s brand,” repositioning it through strategic initiatives like claiming the naming rights for Levi’s Stadium and deepening the brand’s connection to the music industry.

Also under Bergh’s leadership, Levi Strauss returned to the public markets with an IPO in March 2019 and expanded the company’s brand portfolio with the acquisition of Beyond Yoga in 2021.

“It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great company as CEO for the last 12 years. I want to especially thank my team, the board of directors and the family shareholders for all their support through the years,” Bergh said.

“The Levi’s brand 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. 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.”

Appointed as president in January, Gass has been responsible for leading the Levi’s brand, including its product, merchandising and marketing functions, as well as the company’s digital and global commercial operations, while working closely with Bergh. 

In October, Levi Strauss & Co. reported quarterly revenue that missed expectations as performance at retailers including department stores dragged down results, leading the company to cut its full-year sales outlook. 

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