New York: Levi Strauss & Co, which gave America its first pair of blue jeans, is public for the second time.
The stock, which is listed under the ticker “LEVI,” opened for trading on Thursday up 31 per cent on very strong demand and recently changed hands at USD 22.90, up USD 5.90. The offering priced at USD 17, above an originally expected range of USD 14 to USD 16. As of noon, shares were up nearly 34 per cent.
In a rare move, the New York Stock Exchange suspended its “no jeans” policy on Thursday to commemorate the event, transforming the floor from suits and ties into a sea of blue denim, with its traders sporting jeans and denim jackets.
More than 120 employees from Levi’s global offices, including its CEO Chip Bergh outfitted in denim, were on the trading floor.
On Wednesday, the NYSE even Tweeted, “Tomorrow we’ll be in our 501s.” The 166-year-old company, which owns the Dockers and Denizen brands, previously went public in 1971, but the namesake founder’s descendants, the Haas family, took it private again in 1985.
The IPO comes as the iconic brand is staging a comeback under Bergh even as it faces increasing competition and a changing retail landscape. Women are opting for yoga pants or other comfortable athletic sportswear that can be worn every day. And the brand is also contending with a shrinking number of department stores, once its traditional venue of distribution.
Levi’s, like many denim brands, still face challenges. They’re being squeezed by a new wave of closures of traditional department stores. And discounters like Walmart have been developing their own exclusive brands.
In its prospectus, Levi Strauss says it plans to use the proceeds to expand more aggressively into China, India and Brazil. It also is expanding its retail stores. As of late last year, Levi’s operated 824 company-operated stores.
Levi Strauss is adopting a dual-class share structure. Each Class A share will be entitled to one vote, while Class B shares will have 10 votes. Class B stock will primarily be held by the descendants of the company founder.