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Levi Strauss taps Kohl’s chief Michelle Gass as new CEO

By Huw Hughes


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Image: Michelle Gass | Credit: Levi Strauss & Co

US denim giant Levi Strauss & Co has announced that Kohl’s chief Michelle Gass will succeed Chip Bergh as the company’s new CEO within the next 18 months.

As of January 2, Gass will also become Levi Strauss’ new president, and is expected to join the company’s board on the same date.

She will be responsible for leading the Levi’s brand and the company’s global digital and commercial operations.

Gass joins from US department store chain Kohl’s, where she has worked since 2013, first as chief merchandising and customer officer, before being promoted to chief executive in 2018.

During her time at its helm, Gass was credited with leading Kohl’s transformation strategy and growing its digital business at a double-digit compounded annual growth rate.

Earlier in her career, she spent 16 years at Starbucks, most recently serving as president of the company’s EMEA business.

She also previously sat on the boards of food and beverage giant PepsiCo, and health service company Cigna.

“I am thrilled to join Levi Strauss & Co, with its iconic brands, incredible team and unwavering commitment to corporate citizenship,” Gass said in a statement.

She continued: “With the Levi’s brand stronger than ever, Dockers reinvigorated and the Beyond Yoga acquisition expanding the company’s addressable market, I look forward to working alongside [Bergh] and his talented team to realize the incredible potential for the business in the years to come.”

Levi Strauss chief to step down after 11 years

It comes as current CEO Bergh steps down from the helm of the business after first taking on the top job in 2011.

“One of my biggest legacies at Levi Strauss & Co will be my successor, passing the baton to someone who will take the company to the next level,” he said.

Bergh described incoming CEO Gass as “humble, approachable, transparent and driven by purpose and values”, and credited her “track record of building brands and talent”.

He said: “Michelle also brings more than 25 years of retail and omni-channel experience, along with a demonstrated track record of innovation, driving transformational ‘big ideas’ not just on products but also business models. With this move, I am even more confident in this company’s future.”

Levi Strauss
Michelle Gass