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    Wal-Mart to Sell New Levi Strauss Brand

    NEW YORK - Wal-Mart and Levi Strauss on Wednesday announced a deal that will bring a new lower-priced Levi Strauss brand to the world's largest retailer. The deal is not exclusive to Wal-Mart.

    NEW YORK - Wal-Mart and Levi Strauss on Wednesday announced a deal that will bring a new lower-priced Levi Strauss brand to the world's largest retailer. The deal is not exclusive to Wal-Mart.

    The new Levi Strauss Signature line of jeans, shirts and jackets will be in Wal-Mart stores by July.

    The deal gives still-struggling Levi access to the discount store category, where it has had little presence but where 31 percent of all jeans are now sold in the USA, according to an article in USA Today. Privately held Levi's third-quarter earnings, reported in September, showed the company's first quarterly sales increase in six years.

    "We're trying to sell where people shop," said Gregg Hammann, chief customer officer for Levi. The deal is not exclusive, and Levi is talking to other discounters about the new line.

    The Signature brand, with products for men, women and children, will have jeans priced under $30 vs. about $30 to $65 for the traditional Red Tab jeans line. The new jeans come without Levi's trademark red label and arch stitching on the back pockets.

    The lower price range rounds out a three-tier pricing plan that is key in Levi's turnaround strategy.

    Earlier this year Levi introduced upscale $95 to $220 Levi's Premium and Vintage lines in boutiques to complement its department and chain store distribution of its main Red Tab line.

    Wal-Mart has added more stylish brands to its apparel stable with the recent rollout of Bugle Boy and the introduction of its private label, George.

    Though the Signature price tag is still a bargain for most jeans buyers, it's a cut above the $10 to $18 prices for the private-label Faded Glory and Wrangler jeans that Wal-Mart currently sells.

    Levi says it will be sure the Signature line has different cuts and fabrics. People paying higher prices don't want to see the same clothes discounted.

    "Levi's is a unique brand and can stretch from Barneys to the masses," Hanson says. "The last thing in the world we want is the same thing for Signature and the Levi's brand."

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