Michelle Gass to Take the Reins at Levi’s when CEO Chip Bergh Retires in 2024

Michelle Gass, current Levi's President and future company CEO.
Michelle Gass, current Levi's President and future company CEO. (Photo courtesy Levi's)

Current Levi Strauss & Co. President Michelle Gass will succeed CEO Chip Bergh when he retires next year, the company’s board of directors has announced. Gass will formally take the reins on Jan. 29, 2024, a few months prior to Bergh’s departure, which is scheduled for April 26, 2024.

Bergh has been elected as Executive Vice Chair of the Levi’s board until his retirement date, after which he will transition to the role of senior advisor until the end of the company’s 2024 fiscal year.

Gass’ appointment brings to fruition a succession plan that has been in place since the former Kohl’s CEO joined Levi’s in November 2022. Bergh said at the time of Gass’ appointment that the high-profile retail executive “wasn’t out looking” for a new job, but he decided to try his luck hiring her because of the activist pressure Kohl’s was facing at the time. Gass made the move to Levi’s at a moment when the Kohl’s executive team was fighting pressure from certain Kohl’s investors to take measures such as spinning off its ecommerce business or selling itself.

“She’s been through the wars,” said Bergh in an interview with CNBC after Gass’ hiring. “It’s one of the reasons we called her — and she wasn’t out looking. I think the activist situation, the fact that they struck with another letter back in mid- to late-September, kind of created the conditions for her to take a phone call.”


Levi’s was in a bit of turmoil itself at the time. Earlier in the year, previous Brand President and long-time company executive Jennifer Sey — who said she was on track to become the next CEO — quit after a years-long internal dispute over her activism against pandemic-related school closures. Rather than taking a large severance package, which would have come with an NDA, Sey chose to share the reasons for her departure publicly in an online column.

The appointment of Gass eight months later put an end to the drama, and Gass immediately set to work accelerating Levi’s international growth, continuing the brand’s repositioning as a head-to-toe denim lifestyle business and transitioning to a DTC-first operational model.

“We are thrilled to have Michelle become LS&Co.’s next CEO,” said Bob Eckert, Chairman of the LS&Co. board of directors in a statement. “This was a well-executed transition that required great humility and teamwork between Chip and Michelle, and it couldn’t have gone better. Over the last year, we have seen the significant impact Michelle has had on sharpening the Levi’s brand vision as a ‘denim lifestyle’ leader while also positioning it to respond to fast-changing consumer needs and expectations across global markets.

“We would like to thank Chip for his inspirational leadership and unwavering commitment to the company over the last 12+ years,” Eckert added. “Chip has transformed this company and will leave it far better than when he arrived. I know we will continue to benefit from Chip’s strategic perspective as he continues to serve on the company’s board.”

Over his tenure, Bergh advanced the Levi’s business from a predominantly men’s U.S. wholesale bottoms business to a global, DTC-driven one, in addition to reinvigorating the women’s business. Bergh also revitalized the Levi’s brand, repositioning it at the center of culture through strategic initiatives like claiming the naming rights for Levi’s Stadium and deepening the brand’s connection to the music industry. During this time, LS&Co. also returned to the public markets with a successful IPO in March 2019 and expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of Beyond Yoga in 2021.

“It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great company as CEO for the last 12 years,” Bergh said in a statement. “The Levi’s brand is the strongest it has ever been, and as we pivot to become more of an omnichannel, direct-to-consumer retailer, it is time for new leadership. While I’ve known Michelle for more than a decade, my time working closely with her this past year has given me great confidence that her experience, track record of innovation and impact, and passion for the business will position the company for sustainable, profitable growth and significant shareholder and stakeholder value creation.”

“Levi’s is more than a denim icon; it’s part of our cultural fabric and an enduring symbol of quality, innovation and progress,” said Gass in a statement. “In the past year, Chip and I have traveled the globe, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting many members of the LS&Co. team. Those interactions have only underscored my confidence in the incredible potential of our business, the strength of our brands and the power of the company’s values-driven, profits-through-principles approach.”

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