Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh announced his retirement from the company, effective April 26, 2024. Michelle Gass, company president, will succeed Bergh as president and CEO, effective January 29, 2024. In addition, the company’s board elected Bergh as executive vice chair until his retirement date. After that, Bergh will transition to a senior advisor role until the end of the company’s 2024 fiscal year.
The announcement completes a transition plan reported on November 8, 2022. Gass, formerly CEO at Kohl’s, joined Levi Strauss & Co. in December 2022.
“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 LS&Co. 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.”
“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 omnichannel, 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.”
Eckert added, “We are thrilled to have Michelle become LS&Co. ‘s next CEO. This was a well-executed transition that required great humility and teamwork between Chip and Michelle, and it couldn’t have gone better. Over the last year, we have seen the significant impact Michelle has had on sharpening Levi’s brand vision as a ‘denim lifestyle’ leader while also positioning it to respond to fast-changing consumer needs and expectations across global markets. We’re confident that Michelle’s extensive retail and omnichannel experience will position LS&Co. to thrive in its next phase of growth.”
Since starting as president of LS&Co. in January 2023, Gass has been responsible for leading Levi’s brand, including its product, merchandising and marketing functions, and digital and global commercial operations, while working closely with Bergh. As a former Fortune 500 CEO, Gass has focused on accelerating international growth, positioning Levi’s brand as a head-to-toe denim lifestyle apparel business and transitioning LS&Co. ‘s operating model to a DTC-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 the past year, Chip and I have traveled the globe, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting many members of the LS&Co. team. Those interactions have only underscored my confidence in the incredible potential of our business, the strength of our brands and the power of the company’s values-driven, profits-through-principles approach. I am incredibly excited to lead our amazing team and to realize our ambition of becoming a world-class direct-to-consumer retailer. As we build on our 170-year legacy, I’m more confident than ever that we have the right team and strategies in place to unleash the next era of sustainable, profitable growth for LS&Co.”
Levi Strauss & Co.’s brands include Levi’s, Dockers, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co., Denizen, and Beyond Yoga.
Photos courtesy Levi Strauss