NEW YORK — Walter K. Levy, chairman and founder of Walter K. Levy Associates, a management consulting firm with an international clientele serving the retail industry, died of pancreatic cancer on Sunday at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Conn. He was 75.
Levy specialized in strategic marketing and consumer research and was known for his innovative use of data. He was as comfortable working with moderate firms as he was with high-end stores. Among Levy’s clients were Natori, Coach, Barneys New York, Kohl’s, Selfridges, Tiffany & Co., Galeries Lafayette, Belk and Sears.
In 1995, Levy sold the firm to Robert Kerson, an executive search expert who had been a partner. Levy then spent five years as a consultant with Goldman Sachs, and from 2000 to 2003 was managing director of retail trends and positioning at Kurt Salmon Associates.
Arnold Aronson, managing director of Kurt Salmon, said Levy was a retail scholar. “He was an admirable guy and his name will join the ranks of the scholars of the retail industry.”
Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer of Coach, said: “Walter was a man of great vision. He not only saw things how they really were rather than the way people wanted them to be seen, he saw them how they might be. He was a person of enormous integrity. We worked closely together over the years and I found I could always get a view that was thoughtfully developed and always on point.”
Levy’s daughter, Evonne Levy of Toronto, said her father remained active and had been working on an article, “What Are You Going to Do for Me? Long Overdue, Reconfiguring Retail to the Realities of the 21st Century.”
He received a bachelor’s degree from Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., and a master’s degree from New York University. He was a board member at Washington & Jefferson for more than 25 years.
Levy began his retail career as a buyer at Bloomingdale’s, where he met Anita von Bachelle, his wife of 50 years. He held a variety of merchandising and buying positions at Bloomingdale’s and then became vice president of Bonwit Teller.
Besides his wife and daughter, Levy is survived by a son, Gregg, of Norwood, N.J., and his mother, Beatrice Hecht, of Bellevue, Wash. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his name to Washington & Jefferson College.
The family said funeral and service arrangements had not been determined.