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

Pedestrians walk past a Levi’s store in Hong Kong.

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Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh is resigning and handing the reins to his longtime successor, Michelle Gass, the former CEO of Kohl’s, the company announced Thursday.

Gass will take over as CEO on January 29th, while Bergh will officially retire on April 26th. Until then, he will remain deputy chairman of the board. After his retirement, he will work as a consultant until the end of the financial year.

“Chip has transformed this company and will leave it much 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 of Directors,” said Bob Eckert, Levi’s Chief Executive Officer.

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

He also transformed the company into a direct sales powerhouse that no longer relies solely on its wholesale partners. In doing so, he reinvigorated the Levi’s brand and maintained its relevance despite its 170-year history.

“The Levi’s brand is the strongest it has ever been, and as we evolve into a stronger omnichannel direct retailer, it is time for new leadership,” Bergh said in a statement. “Although I have known Michelle for more than a decade, working closely with her over the past year has given me great confidence that her experience, track record of innovation and impact, and passion for business position the company for sustained, sustainable development become. profitable growth and significant value creation for shareholders and stakeholders.”

Levi’s named Gass as its next CEO in November 2022. She started at Levi’s in January and was responsible for leading the company’s eponymous brand, including product, merchandising and marketing functions, as well as digital and global commercial operations. Their goal is to stimulate international growth and transform the company into a direct-to-consumer organization.

“It is an honor to assume the leadership of this iconic brand and company that I have deeply admired and respected for many years. Levi’s is more than a denim icon; “It is part of our culture and an enduring symbol of quality, innovation and progress,” Gass said in a statement.

Similar to many retailers, Levi’s is struggling to get consumers to spend on apparel as inflation strains shoppers’ budgets. In October, the company lowered its full-year revenue forecast for the second time this year and said it expects net sales to range from flat to 1% this year.

Shares of Levi Strauss are down 1% this year, lagging the S&P 500’s roughly 19% rise.

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