Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Riveting News Levi Strauss & Co. Rethinks Move to Cut off Retailer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Riveting News Levi Strauss & Co. Rethinks Move to Cut off Retailer

Article excerpt

Levi Strauss & Co. is reconsidering its decision to cut off its supply of Levi's jeans to Don Rathert's 110-year-old store in Red Bud, Ill.

"We've never heard from Mr. Rathert, but we intend to talk to him about his individual situation," Levi's spokesman Gavin Power said in a telephone interview from company headquarters in San Francisco. "There were facts about his business that we weren't aware of that we'd like to talk to him about."

Rathert, 64, has sold Levi's for almost half a century from his small store, passed down from his father and grandfather. He said that company's products comprise 90 percent of his business and that he sold $77,000 worth of Levi's jeans and jackets last year. But last month, Levi Strauss notified him by letter that his store "does not provide the type of retail environment that is consistent with the Levi Strauss & Co. brand's product positioning" and that as of March 15 it would no longer offer him its products to sell. "It will put me out of business," Rathert said last week. But news stories about his situation have raised a storm of protest, including phone calls, letters and faxes to Levi's. "You kept me busy today," Power admitted with good humor. He said he hadn't kept track of how many angry calls he handled. Based on calls to the Post-Dispatch, the company can expect letters from outraged consumers to start pouring in today. Rathert's store was one of about two dozen across the country, among the thousands of outlets that sell Levi's, that fell short of a standard set of criteria under the company's Retail Distribution Initiatives Program, Power said. Those criteria included such things as store location, product presentation, fixtures, signage and how competing brands are handled, he said. The goal is to avoid "sending confusing signals to consumers" in a highly competitive market, he said. …

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