By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO
AP Retail Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Levi Strauss & Co. said Thursday that its CEO will step down in January and hand over the reins of the jeans maker to his appointed successor.
Chip Bergh, 66, will cede the CEO job to Michelle Gass, 55, who left her CEO role at Kohl’s to become president of Levi’s in January of this year.
Bergh, who took over at the San Francisco company in September 2011, will stay on as executive vice chair until he retires in late April, Levi Strauss said. He will remain on as an advisor through the end of the fiscal year.
Gass will take on the CEO position on Jan. 29. The move completes the succession plan that was announced just over a year ago, when Levi Strauss had said Gass was joining the company to succeed Bergh within 18 months.
Over the course of his tenure, Bergh moved the brand from a predominantly men’s U.S. wholesale pants business to a global, direct-to-consumer company. He also reinvigorated the women’s business. Under his leadership, Levi Strauss returned to the public markets with a successful IPO in March 2019 and expanded the company’s brand portfolio with the acquisition of Beyond Yoga in 2021.
Prior to joining Levi Strauss, Bergh served in top roles at Procter & Gamble during a 21-year tenure.
Since starting as president of Levi’s, Gass has been responsible for leading the Levi’s brand, including its product, merchandising and marketing functions, as well as the company’s e-commerce and global commercial operations, while working closely with Bergh. The company said Gass has been focused on accelerating international growth, positioning the brand as a head-to-toe denim lifestyle clothing business.