February 5, 2005

Levi Strauss Signature

Here's a puff piece about how Levi's has a 20 support team in Bentonville to service WM's needs.

BENTONVILLE -- "Levi Strauss Signature" proclaims the large sign on the even larger building on Southeast 5th Street in Bentonville. More telling, perhaps, are the words "Wal-Mart Support Team" underneath the title....

"Our whole purpose in being here is to be of service to Wal-Mart," said Kate Morrissey, director of sales for Levi in Bentonville. "We are the customer contact here."

That customer being Wal-Mart of Bentonville -- more specifically, its buyers. Morrissey and her staff meet with them weekly, she said, to sell orders of Levi's Signature jeans, a brand launched in October 2002 for mass retail chains such as Wal-Mart.

Although Levi sells its Signature jeans to other retailers, Wal-Mart was its first customer. The San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. opened its Bentonville office in December 2002 in a 7,000-square-foot building that used to be a furniture warehouse. The only other offices in America that sell Levi's Signature jeans are in Chicago and Minneapolis, according to Morrissey.

Only Wal-Mart is served out of Levi's Bentonville office, which is headed by Ted Fox. Morrissey has been with Levi Strauss for 24 years and transferred to Bentonville from San Francisco. Office manager is Darcy Gay, who has been with the company for two years. She is originally from Little Rock but has worked in California.

"We have a good cross mix of people here," Morrissey said.

She and the rest of the staff deal in sales, operations and replenishment, she said. There is no reception area at the office. Instead, visitors check in by using a special phone set up in the lobby. Beyond glass doors is a large showroom where Levi Signature apparel is displayed on racks and shelves in the same layout as it is in a Wal-Mart store to give buyers a better visual for the products, Morrissey said.

"We're set up in this office similar to how they're set up," she said about Wal-Mart. "It's what I call a cross-functional team."

Note that the signature brand does NOT mean premium quality.

Posted by Kevin on February, 5 2005 at 11:38 AM