Charles “Chip” Bergh is getting his wish — a spot at the top of the corporate pyramid.
This story first appeared in the June 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Just nine days after resigning from The Procter & Gamble Co. to pursue a position as a chief executive officer, Bergh on Thursday was named president and ceo of Levi Strauss & Co., effective Sept. 1. He will succeed John Anderson, who will retire following 32 years with the San Francisco-based jeans and sportswear firm.
Bergh, 53, on June 7 stepped down as group president of P&G’s global male grooming unit, a $7 billion shaving and grooming business that includes the Gillette, Old Spice, The Art of Shaving, Zirh and Olay Men Solutions brands, after a 28-year tenure with P&G.
P&G said that Bergh was departing to pursue a ceo role but would remain with the firm until Sept. 1.
In his new post, Bergh will oversee the Levi’s, Dockers, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. and Denizen brands, which are sold in more than 110 countries. The company operates 482 stores.
“I am truly humbled and excited to join Levi Strauss & Co. to lead the next phase of evolution and growth of its iconic brands,” said Bergh. “I look forward to working with the company’s impressive leadership team and talented employees to build on its strong position as a consumer industry leader for the benefit of shareholders, consumers and other stakeholders.”
In fiscal 2010, the company posted net income of $156.5 million, up 3 percent from $151.9 million in 2009. Revenues last year were $4.41 billion, up 7.4 percent from $4.11 billion.
Among his recent accomplishments at P&G, Bergh oversaw the expansion of the Gillette Fusion brand to more than 80 markets outside of North America, creating a $2 billion business. Bergh was also instrumental in launching the Fusion ProGlide and Fusion ProSeries extensions and oversaw the multiplatform Old Spice campaign, which has won a slew of top advertising awards and pushed the brand to a leadership position in North America.
At P&G, Bergh will be succeeded by Patrice Louvet, president, global prestige, in the role of president, global male grooming.
Anderson was traveling in Asia and unavailable for an interview. However, in a note to employees on the Levi Strauss & Co. internal blog site, Anderson highlighted several initiatives among his most memorable achievements, including the 1991 launch of the company’s Terms of Engagement for suppliers.
“That’s when we took the labor, health, safety and environmental standards we used in our own factories and effectively told our vendors our standards were now theirs. This, then, became ‘the new normal’ for most major apparel brands and in other industries,” wrote Anderson.
He also singled out the company’s growth in China and India as key accomplishments, as well as the introduction of the Levi’s Curve ID fit system last year.
In April, Anderson announced a deal with Target to bring its Denizen brand to the U.S. this summer. The brand originally launched in Asia last year as an entry-level price point jean targeted at the region’s emerging, fashion-hungry middle class.
“There’s a sense of momentum and excitement among our teams around the world. And for me, personally, it’s time for a new chapter in my life,” wrote Anderson.
Anderson will leave the company’s board on Sept. 1, but will serve as a non-executive employee through the end of 2011. He will receive $7.1 million as part of a separation agreement with Levi Strauss & Co., with $2.5 million payable in Jan. 2012 and the remainder over the following 78 weeks. His date of birth wasn’t available, but he was 59 as of Feb. 3, according to the firm’s last annual report.
Bergh, who will become a director at Levi’s, will receive a base salary of $1.2 million and will participate in the company’s annual incentive program with a target rate of 135 percent of his base salary, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He will also receive a one-time signing bonus of $1.85 million, repayable if he departs the company in less than a year. In addition, he participates in the company’s equity incentive plan, with an initial grant of $4.9 million in stock appreciation rights.
Bergh previously served on the board for VF Corp., on the Economic Development Board, Singapore, and was a member of the US-ASEAN Business Council, Singapore.
Among the many positions Bergh held at P&G as he rose through the ranks was brand manager of Duncan Hines cake/frosting, advertising manager of Folgers/Jif, vice-president of North America coffee and peanut butter, president of the ASEAN/Australasia/India region and group president of global personal care.
“We would like to thank John Anderson for the countless contributions he has made to our company throughout the past 32 years,” said Richard Kauffman, chairman of Levi Strauss & Co. “Under his leadership, Levi Strauss & Co. has completed a successful brand transformation, honed its focus on brand management and made investments in key growth platforms to leverage the strength of our market-leading brands.”
For the three months ended Feb. 27, Levi’s net income was $40.7 million, down 27.8 percent from $56.4 million in the year-ago period. Net sales were $1.1 billion, up 8.3 percent from $1.02 billion a year ago.