Despite having recently announced a larger focus on its direct-to-consumer business, Levi’s is simultaneously ramping up its wholesale initiatives in the U.S. and throughout Europe in 2021.
The denim giant’s past reports indicate that U.S. wholesale business accounts for 30 percent of revenue, and “will always be important,” according to Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh.
Executives mapped out a wholesale strategy with a three-pronged approach, which Kristy Castelluccio, Levi’s vice president of digital and sales effectiveness in the Americas, identifies as “tackling the whitespace, owning the brand expression and taking charge of the customer relationship.”
“By zeroing in on these areas, we can control how we show up in the marketplace, differentiate our assortment, deliver a head-to-toe look, find new distribution opportunities and more,” she said.
New avenues of distribution are a top priority for brands this year, as so many spent 2020 treading water as a result of the pandemic. In October, the company announced plans to expand into 500 Target stores throughout 2021. It also attributed the success of its value line, Denizen, to Asian wholesale partners. Customers such as Amazon Japan and value store Mac House, for example, helped the collection compete with Uniqlo, its biggest rival in the region. In 2021, Levi’s will continue to strengthen these partnerships.
“There is an enormous opportunity in wholesale, especially with our Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. and Denizen brands to offer our consumers high-quality, sustainable products at a great value,” said Castelluccio.
But it’s not just giant wholesalers that are targets for strategic partnerships. Levi’s is also working with smaller customers, and ensuring that the proper technology is in place for smooth service.
“Our goal is to empower our customers to make it easier for them to work with us, and easier for our operations and logistics teams to deliver our assortments so our cross-functional teams can really focus on our strategic partners,” said Scott Clarke-Bryan, Levi’s vice president of wholesale in Europe.
With all of these strategies in place, the brand set an aggressive target of 20 percent of total revenue in the U.S. to come from its value business. And according to Michael Huddleston, Levi’s vice president of sales, value brands, the company is right on track. Last year, Levi’s made several key updates to its product marketing within Walmart stores, and saw an immediate uptick in sales.
“It’s an ambitious goal, and we’re confident we have the right team and product strategies to achieve it,” he said.