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EDITIONS
Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 10:38 GMT
Levi creates new discount brand
Signature, the new Levi Strauss brand
The new brand has a different back pocket design
Levi Strauss is creating a jeans brand that will be sold through Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer.


We cannot make any meaningful statements on the future of a brand for the mass channel in this region

Paola Brandi, Levi Strauss

The "Levi Strauss Signature" will become the maker's third main brand alongside Levi's and Dockers.

In the summer, UK supermarket chain Tesco lost its long legal battle to import discounted Levi jeans from America.

Levi said it had not yet made a decision about whether it would launch the brand in Europe.

UK supermarket Asda, which is owned by Wal-Mart, told BBC News Online that it would welcome any approaches by Levi to sell the jeans in the UK.

Customers want cheaper jeans

Levi said it was also talking to other big retailers in the US about selling the brand.

It said the new brand, which will be available for men, women and children, would have its "own new identity", different from the other Levi brands.

Buying patterns
More than 160m people in the US shop in hypermarkets
31% of all jeans sold in the US are sold in hypermarkets
Source: Levi Strauss

The new jeans will be available initially at Wal-Mart stores across the United States from July 2003.

"One-third of all jeans sold in the US are purchased in the mass channel at retail and yet there is a void in this market for quality clothing from Levi Strauss," said chief executive Phil Marineau.

"Consumers who shop in these stores have told us that they want high-quality jeans at affordable prices from a company they trust. That's what we will deliver."


I think it would be a surprise if we ever got into a relationship with them

Tesco spokesman

Levi said it would launch its new brand in Europe only if extensive research showed that "all the right conditions are in place for us to make a move of this kind".

Paola Brandi, a spokeswoman for Levi Strauss Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "We have not yet completed our review... and cannot make any meaningful statements on the future of a brand for the mass channel in this region."

UK supermarket reaction

UK supermarket chain Tesco sells discounted Levi Strauss jeans from Europe, but lost the right to import from America in the summer following a lengthy and high-profile court battle.

It said it would be a "surprise" if it ever got into a relationship with Levi.


I think it is a signal that they are beginning to take the big retailers more seriously

Asda spokesman

A spokesman told BBC News Online: "It seems like more and more people are listening now.

"We are not in talks with Levi and I am not quite sure how we would react to them coming to Europe."

"We already have a partnership with our own American company called Cherokee. We have a good American partner."

Asda said the move by Levi was significant.

A spokesman told BBC News Online: "We would like to have a direct relationship with the brands, and it's an indication that they are starting to talk to supermarkets.

"It's still early days, and there are no plans to sell the jeans, but I think it is a signal that they are beginning to take the big retailers more seriously."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kurrt Barnard, Barnard's Retail Trend Report
"Two thirds of Americans today buy in mass market channels"
See also:

13 Sep 02 | Health
31 Jul 02 | Business
08 Apr 02 | Business
18 Oct 01 | Archive
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