Blame it on bad times. Levi Strauss & Co. officials confirmed this week that they had begun selling some excess inventory — including Levi’s Red Tab products — to Sam’s Club, but said the move had nothing to do with the upcoming launch of the Levi Strauss Signature mass market brand at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s 2,000-plus U.S. stores.

At an investors’ conference in New York Monday sponsored by Credit Suisse First Boston, Wal-Mart executive vice president of general merchandise Don Harris said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer was “leveraging” its new relationship with Levi’s to secure the company’s Red Tab products for some outlets at its Sam’s Club division.

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