Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Levi's Promotions

Yes, this is another Levi's announcement.

Robert Hanson is now president of Levi's North America and Alan Hed is now president of Levi's Asia Pacific.

Robert Hanson, 43, will continue to lead the U.S. Levi's brand as its president and general manager, a position he has held since 2001, and will now also be accountable for the North America region, which, in addition to the Levi's brand, includes the U.S. Dockers, U.S. Levi Strauss Signature, Canada and Mexico businesses.

Hanson joined LS&CO. in 1988 and has held increasingly responsible marketing and merchandising positions in the U.S. and European businesses, including president of the Levi's brand in Europe and vice president of Dockers brand marketing in the United States.

Alan Hed, 46, was the Asia Pacific region's managing director for Latin America, Africa, Turkey and Australia/New Zealand for the past three years, as well as Japan and South Korea for the past year. He joined LS&CO. in 2000 as the general manager of the company’s South Africa business and was promoted in 2002 to manage LS&CO.'s emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. His experience before LS&CO. included executive positions at Citibank in Thailand and Procter & Gamble in Europe, Asia and the United States.

These executive changes are part of a leadership transition at the company that began in July, when LS&CO. announced Philip Marineau's retirement as president and chief executive officer, effective November 26, 2006. The company's board of directors subsequently accepted Marineau’s recommendation to designate John Anderson, a 27-year veteran of the company, as LS&CO.'s next president and CEO. Anderson recently was president of the company’s Asia Pacific region and president of LS&CO.'s global sourcing organization before being named chief operating officer in July.

"John Anderson and I have been working closely to ensure a smooth transition when I retire and he becomes CEO," said Phil Marineau. "We've been collaborating on the company's strategic business plans and a number of senior leadership changes. With these appointments, John will begin his term as CEO with very strong leadership teams running our North America and Asia Pacific regions."

"Both Robert and Alan have tremendous leadership capability and capacity and excellent track records of driving change," said John Anderson. "They're keenly familiar with the company's operations, talent and strategic plans, and will contribute immediately as we continue to improve our business performance and optimize growth opportunities for the company."

LS&CO.'s business is organized into three geographic regions: North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. In fiscal year 2005, these regions represented approximately $2.5 billion, $980 million and $690 million of the company's approximately $4.1 billion total sales, respectively. In addition to comprising markets such as Japan, Korea, India and China, the company's Asia Pacific region also covers South America, the Middle East and Africa.

The point is Levi's is seeing a lot of change in leadership with Marineau's retirement.

Via Retail Merchandiser

UPDATED 10/18/06: As I was thinking about how I don't know Robert Hanson, I realize this may be a good opportunity to learn more about him.

A 2002 Fast Company magazine article starts with:
Three loose-limbed models slink into the cramped conference room next to Robert Hanson's office at Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters. On his command, they turn around and show off their backsides. Hanson, president of the Levi's U.S. brand, tugs at oversized belt loops and pokes at generous pockets as he takes a hard look at Type 1, the company's new line of jeans and jackets. He's betting that Type 1 will be this fall's must have in denim fashion.

He obviously understands how a company with heritage can still remain relevant to our fashion conscious society. Under his tenure Levi's has released products ranging from the Warhol Factory X Levi's collection to organic denim to iPod compatible jeans.

As Suzanne Kapner recently said in the NY Post:
Much of the credit for Levi's renewed focus on developing better products goes to Robert Hanson, the U.S. president of the Levi brand. Hanson made a splash in the 1990s when he came up with the "engineered jean," a style made of twisted fabric, while he was president of the Levi brand in Europe.

When Hanson first moved back to San Francisco in 2001, many of his ideas, such as upping the fashion quotient, were put on hold as Marineau focused on the Herculean task of shifting production offshore, paying down debt and stemming the slide in sales, sources said.

Now that the company's financial situation has stabilized - sales rose 1 percent in the most recent fiscal year - turning out better products is "probably our most important focus," Beckman, the spokesman, said.

According to his profile from Boston
College's Center for Corporate Citizenship:
Hanson began his career with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1988 as a advertising manager. Since then, he has held a variety of increasingly important positions in the U.S. and Europe including Director of Marketing, Levi's Kids; Vice President, Marketing and Brand Development, Dockers Khakis; Senior Vice President, Brand Development, Europe, Africa & Middle East; and President, Levi’s Brand, Europe, Africa & Middle East.

Prior to joining LS&CO, Hanson worked at the global advertising firm, Foote, Cone & Belding. Hanson received a bachelors of arts degree from Saint Mary's College in California and attended the Executive Program of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business Consumer Marketing.

Back to the Fast Company article:
Hanson can explain his strategy to you -- or he can draw it. He pulls out a pen and paper, draws a triangle with a dotted line down the center, and then divides the whole triangle into thirds. At the pinnacle are the brands Red on one side and LVC on the other. They're located at the top because Red and LVC are Levi's most expensive lines, and they are meant for trendsetters.

Underneath the Red and LVC brands, in the middle of the pyramid, sit Type 1 and Pure Blue. Red inspires Type 1, and LVC inspires Pure Blue. Both Type 1 and Pure Blue -- a gutsy bet on a look that simulates the blue created by optical whiteners -- are brands that are meant to appeal to trend adopters who want cutting-edge clothes on a limited budget.

At the bottom of the pyramid, Hanson still has work to do. But this is, of course, the place where such stalwarts as Levi's 501s and 550s live, so he has to be sure to tread carefully. "I want to create jeans for everyone that are equally distinctive," Hanson says. "But I always remember that we're about pants that were built for miners. I've got to keep that integrity and soul."

Good stuff.

Finally a few words on social responsibility. According to the National HIV/AIDS Partnership:
Robert Hanson and Levi Strauss have national and global recognition among those who fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic and have been leaders in promoting AIDS awareness and education. The company has a 20-year commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS, and launched a fundraising and awareness campaign to benefit Population Services International's (PSI) YouthAIDS program a campaign Mr. Hanson helped promote. Mr. Hanson has co-chaired the Hetrick-Martin Institute's Annual Emery Award program, for which Levi's was the presenting sponsor. The Levi Strauss & Co. and the Levi Strauss Foundation have donated over $25 million dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the past 20-years.

According to the Marketing Forum (Europe) Hanson was and may still be involved with "many professional and community activities, which include acting as Advisor in Marketing and HIV prevention to the Harvard Aids Institute, as Advisor to the Hettrick Martin Institute and the Larkin Street Youth Center and as Member of the Board of the San Francisco Center for Living."

I hope you learned a few things there.


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