- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Levi Strauss & Co., whose jeans are an all-American symbol, said yesterday it is closing six U.S. plants and eliminating 3,600 jobs, or 22 percent of its work force, as it moves away from the business of making the clothes it sells.
The company, whose sales have been sagging, has said it wants to concentrate more on marketing its clothes.
"There is no question that we must move away from owned-and-operated plants in the U.S. to remain competitive in our industry," said Philip Marineau, chief executive.
Since 1997, the company had already closed 24 North American plants, shifting the work to cheaper overseas manufacturers and laying off about 13,000 employees.
The latest closings, also shifting work overseas, leave only two plants open in the United States for the 149-year-old company that has symbolized the pioneering American spirit since the Gold Rush days, when its blue denim jeans were worn by miners.
In June, the company will close plants in San Francisco and Blue Ridge, Ga.; in August, plants in Brownsville and San Benito, Texas; and in October, plants in Powell, Tenn., and El Paso, Texas.
The privately held company said it will continue to operate a sewing plant and a finishing center in San Antonio, though it will cut about 300 jobs there, too. Levi Strauss employs 16,600 people overall.
A poor sales start this year put Levi's on track for its sixth consecutive year of declining revenue.
The privately-held, San Francisco-based company's sales totaled $935.3 million for the three months ended Feb. 24 a 6 percent decline from a year earlier.

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