Marineau added that the company will continue to consider opportunities to license out product categories. Levi’s early this year licensed the rights to knit and woven tops and women’s jackets to Hong Kong sourcing giant Li & Fung, and is in talks about licensing men’s and boys’ shirts to the company. It also has licensed women’s tops to Van Nuys, Calif.-based Jerry Leigh.
“Our strategy is to really focus on being a bottoms marketer for men and women of casual pants and jeans,” said Marineau. “Our expertise is not in tops and it’s not in kids’, and in general, we are going to license where it isn’t a core expertise of the business.”
Overall, he backed away from making any promises about the company turning around sales in its core Levi’s brand this year, citing overall economic concerns and what he called a softening apparel market.
“There is a huge opportunity on the core Levi’s business for the balance of the year,” he said. “It’s highly dependent on the market conditions that we face.”
Marineau said macroeconomic factors — such as the steep rise in fuel prices — would continue to take a toll on spending for discretionary items such as apparel.
“Given the number of people who drive a car to work every day,” he said, “high prices at the pump will affect them.”