Robert Eckert wearing levi's denim jacket

There’s going to be a new face at the very top of Levi Strauss & Co.’s corporate org chart. 

The jeansmaker said Robert Eckert received the unanimous nod from its board to become chair in May, succeeding Stephen Neal, who reached the mandatory board retirement age of 72. 

“It has been an honor to lead the Levi Strauss & Co. board over the last decade,” Neal said. “As I step down from this role, I have great confidence that Bob will continue to bring a high standard, invaluable perspective and strong leadership that will help management drive performance over the coming years.”

Levi’s enjoyed something of a renaissance during Neal’s tenure, overseeing chief executive officer Chip Bergh’s efforts to turn the company around, go public (again) and refocus the business around its own distribution channels. 

Bergh noted: “Steve has been instrumental to our successful turnaround over the last decade, including playing a key role in taking the company public. He has guided us through countless strategic decisions and supported our commitment to our values every step of the way. As Steve retires as board chair, we are lucky to have Bob step into this role.”

Eckert has been on Levi’s board for 11 years and brings a broad range of experience to the role. He is an operating partner at private equity firm FFL Partners and was previously CEO at Mattel and Kraft Foods Inc. Currently, Eckert also sits on the boards of McDonald’s Corp., Uber Technologies Inc., Amgen Inc., Eyemart Express Holdings and Quinn Group Inc.

The company detailed the shift in its proxy statement with the Securities Exchange Commission, which also set the date of its annual shareholder meeting for April 21 and gave other details of operations, including executive compensation. 

Bergh’s total compensation fell to $10.6 million last year from $12.2 million in 2019. Almost $7.6 million of his take last year came in the form of stock and option awards, the value of which fluctuate with the market. 

Harmit Singh, executive vice president and chief financial officer, saw his total pay slip to $3.4 million from $3.7 million. 

 

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