When it comes time for Harmit Singh to brief Levi Strauss & Co.’s management team regarding the latest performance results, Levi’s CFO will often share a briefing document that features a front page bearing the heading “What’s Working and What’s Not.”
“It’s more difficult to understand what’s not working, and it’s the ‘What’s not’ that helps us to determine the areas on which we have to focus to take the business to the next level,” explains Singh, who notes that the “front page” is carefully rendered by Levi’s Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) crew – a team of forward-looking financial professionals whose past feats of analytic derring-do have included helping the jeans maker to foresee the leap from “skinny Jeans” to the baggie look among young consumers.Read More
It’s here among Levi’s crack team of number crunchers that the “what’s not” often becomes exposed, and it’s here where a new mind-set – one that keeps consumers top-of-mind and favors stakeholders over shareholders – is already visible.
CFOTL: Levi’s is reportedly making some very sizable digital investments in 2021 – how will this change the business?
Singh: The pandemic has really accelerated the digitalization of the consumer’s experience with brands. It has accelerated employee experiences. All of us have been sitting at home and connecting digitally. There’s also been an accelerated digitalization of how we interact with our customers. Think about the large retailers. We’ve been driving a technology revolution in the company over the past couple of years, and, as we thought about the pandemic and the acceleration of different experiences, the question for us became, “How do we invest in the areas that will ensure that we emerge stronger?” We pulled back capital last year in other areas, but we actually accelerated our spending on initiatives like “Omni-Channel,” which is connecting and making sure that when you interact with us on our website and our apps, you can connect and have that experience of our stores.Read More
We’ve really expedited things. Things that would have taken us a year or 8 to 10 months to roll out, we’ve been able to do in 6 weeks. I’ll give you an example: “Buy online/Pick up at store” is something that we had in the cards for rollout in 2021. We rolled it out in 6 weeks in 2020, and it allowed us to connect and interact with the consumer and ensure that we were able to contribute to growing market share. Two-thirds of our capital spend is toward initiatives that will digitize the consumer, employee, and customer experiences. We feel that this is the right investment to make for the long term. It has a high ROI, and I’m blessed to have a wonderful technology team inside the company that is actually focused on doing it. People are working long hours but, importantly, are making a big difference.
Levi Strauss & Co. | www.levistrauss.com | San Francisco, CA