Skip to comments.Bye, bye America: Levi Strauss shuts last of its North American plants in Texas
Posted on 10/01/2003 5:18:51 PM PDT by Destro
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Bye, bye America
Levi Strauss shuts last of its North American plants in Texas
SAN ANTONIO, SEPTEMBER 26: Levi Strauss & Co., maker of a jeans brand so all-American that it became ingrained in the nations identity, said on Thursday that it will close the last of its North American manufacturing plants, laying off almost 2,000 workers.
The announcement came two weeks after the San Francisco-based company, which is struggling to cut costs and stay competitive, said it would lay off seven per cent of its US workforce. Levi now says it will shutter two plants in San Antonio, Texas by the years end, displacing 800 workers and marking the end of US operations.
It will also discontinue its Canadian operations in March, erasing 1,190 jobs in Alberta and Ontario. Its goal is to focus resources in other areas, including development and marketing. Were in an industry where few apparel brands own and operate manufacturing facilities in North America, Chief Executive Phil Marineau said. In fact, we are one of the last companies to do so. Last year, 96 per cent of apparel purchased in the US was made in other countries, up from 93 per cent in 2001. Through June this year, US apparel imports increased 16.7 per cent, with much of it coming from Mexico, Central America and China.
Over the past seven years, Levi has closed dozens of plants in North America and Europe and slashed thousands of jobs. Last year, it posted sales of $4.2 billion. The jobs lost at Levi plants in North America are likely to shift to Latin America and Asia, Levi spokeswoman Linda Butler said. Levi now works with about 500 contractors, producing apparel in 50 countries.
Levi is simply adapting to a reality that many other US apparel makers have had to face, Burke said. What youre seeing with Levi is just the economic reality of our industry, Burke said. American consumers, when shopping look at price and quality, and not necessarily to where the product is made. But experts say few, if any, brands are as linked to the US landscape as the Levis.
Levis has been a symbol of US spirit since prospectors rushed into California 150 years ago, wearing Levi jeans with copper rivets. As the miners went into the Sierra Nevadas to pan for gold, Levi stood the test, said Peter Sealey, adjunct professor of marketing at the University of California. That created the companys image and history.
To many consumers, Levi was a symbol of confidence, sex, youth, rebellion, freedom, originality and authenticity, said Alex Wipperfuth, partner at Plan B, a marketing company. Those are the dimensions of Americana, according to Levi, he said.
I think the key issue is, will any of those fall away once people realise Levi is not produced in the US anymore? (LAT-WP)
Amazing. What happened to "Buy American?"
Wonder what companies make up the remaining 4 per cent.
This doesn't help the economy, but I am glad to see the company go.
A lot of "Made in America" clothing is made in places like Samoa and the American Marianas, which are allowed to use the "Made in America" label and to come to mainland America without import quotas or tariffs and bear a "Made in America" label. Garment factories in Saipan, for example, make clothes for dozens of American brands like Gap, Dayton Hudson and The Limited. The garment workers in Saipan are largely women recruited from China. Essentially, they're sweatshops, but the workers are glad to come (and even to pay fees to recruiters) because conditions, while bad, are still better than they are in mainland China.
Bills to bring the Northern Marianas under mainland minimum wage or immigration laws have extensive support in Congress but have been blocked, largely due to the influence of Tom DeLay, the congressman from Texas.
Frankly, as long as such practices continue -- and as long as we continue to have almost free trade with China and other countries with substandard labor practices, there is little we can do about American companies going elsewhere to manufacture their goods. If you were running a company, wouldn't you go where the costs are cheaper -- where the wages were lower and you didn't have to spend money to avoid polluting the air & streams? Even the maquiladoras in Mexico along the Tex-Mex border are now losing out to China and other places, because the costs are less than even in the maquiladoras.
The government makes it tough on the average American to get into business because it is so difficult to amass cash. Small business is predominately new people to the country, they bring the cash with them, or are financed offshore.
It looks like you may be getting your wish. The Haas family and their idiot managers have been running the company into the ground for at least 6 years. Seems they think the best ways to deal with a problem are to:
And, as we know, that would also include the Dockers label and the Slates label, both owned by Levi Strauss.
To brighten your outlook on this dreary, overcast San Francisco day, see article I linked in post 18.
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