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Levi Strauss Sales Climb to a Record $7.1 Billion

February 27, 1997|From Times Wire Services

Levi Strauss & Co., which this month announced plans to cut a fifth of its salaried employees, reported Wednesday that sales in 1996 climbed 6% to a record $7.1 billion, a record for the world's largest apparel manufacturer.

In the United States, sales topped $4.3 billion, driven by demand for the Levi's and Dockers brands, the privately held San Francisco-based company said.

Sales of its new line of men's dress pants, called Slates, "grew at a pace exceeding company expectations," it said.

International sales were $2.8 billion, led by increased demand for Levi's denim products in Germany, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

A strong European performance was offset by "slightly lower sales" in the Asia-Pacific region. Levi Strauss cited sluggish economies in Japan, South Korea and Australia as hurting sales in Asia.

The good news followed bad news last week from the company best known for its brass-riveted blue jeans.

Levi Strauss last week announced that it planned to cut 1,000 jobs, one-fifth of its U.S. white-collar work force, through early retirement, attrition and layoffs over the next year as part of an effort to trim overhead costs by about $80 million a year.

Levi Strauss has 5,000 white-collar workers in the United States. In all, the company employs about 26,000 people, most of them hourly workers, in the U.S. It has 37,500 workers worldwide, including the U.S. workers.

Company spokeswoman Linda Butler said at the time that, while the company's brands were very strong and the business was financially healthy, the company found that overhead costs were out of line with revenues and were increasing at an unacceptable rate.

Butler said that while Levi Strauss had a record year for sales last year, increased competition was a factor behind the move to cut costs.

In January, the company said it planned to sell Brittania Sportswear Ltd. to focus on its premium brands of clothing.

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