It’s already been one year since Levi Strauss & Co. officially acquired The Jeans Company (TJC) in the Andes.
It was a challenging and exciting venture from the start. The team officially took over in December (the busiest shopping time of the year) and had to establish basic in-store operations while also sharing the LS&Co. values and ways of working.
Despite these challenges and the backdrop of a global pandemic, the team has grown to more than 650 people across Chile, Bolivia and Perú, opened four new stores, launched new distribution channels and served as a playground for innovative ideas and campaigns. Read on to learn how they combined scrappiness and determination to achieve these accomplishments.
A Team With a Can-Do Attitude
The top priority right out the gate was to create a winning team. The leaders thoughtfully combined existing TJC employees with LS&Co. veterans and new talent in the local market, including the hiring of key leaders in Marketing, MPIM and Retail. This team maintained day-to-day operations, brought the LS&Co. spirit to life and infused new energy and ideas into the company.
The team hit the ground running, balancing operating the business with teaching the LS&Co. ways of working to employees. Just as the team gained familiarity with LS&Co. processes and operations, the coronavirus pandemic took center stage and people shifted to working from home. This added another level of complexity to creating a strong culture where people could easily collaborate with one another.
“We were under a mandatory stay-at-home order while also trying to get a business up and running and building community between our employees,” said Fabi Arevalo, Finance Director in the Andes. “Fortunately, everyone was up for the challenge.”
Unphased by the lockdown curveball, the team swiftly improvised and found new ways to bond with their colleagues. These included cooking classes, photo contests, virtual cocktail hours, a newsletter and bimonthly virtual town halls to keep everyone up to date and engaged.
“The team exceeded all of our expectations,” said Sam Espindola, Managing Director of the Andes. “We have created a culture that is scrappy, close-knit and collaborative, which has allowed us to continue to focus on our priorities and achieve more, even while remote.”
Despite lockdowns throughout the region, the Levi’s® brand’s power kept consumers coming back to the stores. The team maintained brand relevance by creating marketing campaigns using the inventory that was on-hand, especially as the team waited for global campaigns to reach the region.
Additionally, the team opened four new stores in the past year — bringing the total number of stores to 82 in the region — and kicked off a mobile Tailor Shop. The mobile Tailor Shop visited each of our owned-and-operated stores for a few days at a time and partnered with local influencers to bring excitement to the experience. The mobile Tailor Shop was a hit with our fans, and now Chile will open its first Tailor Shop in a premium wholesale location later this year.
The team also opened a Dockers® Clearance store, and in just its first week was a Top 5 Dockers® door and the best performing Outlet location. The store provided consumers with a one-stop-shop for Dockers® products at a great value and price.
In Chile, where the lockdown lasted for several months, the team opened new distribution channels, including a new ecommerce experience for Levi’s® and Dockers® in the country and launched on the Linio marketplace, a Chilean ecommerce platform similar to Amazon. The team is now looking to expand its owned-and-operated ecommerce presence to Peru in early 2021.
“Launching on Linio allowed us to learn about how to fulfill ecommerce directly from our own DC,” said Pascual Arab, Logistics Cluster Lead in Chile. “This ecommerce distribution capability is unique for LS&Co., and helped us to deliver products to consumers faster, often the next day.”
The Andes team has come a long way since last December, when the top priority was ensuring basic systems were in place and operational. In a time where many retailers are closing stores and shutting down, the team remained dedicated to ensuring that the Andes region is successful. Thanks to their hard work, the Andes team has exceeded expectations by expanding our presence in the region, creating sophisticated integrations, cultivating strong relationships with other regions, keeping up with new business plans and driving results.
“I am so proud of our team and know that together, we are set up for the long term,” said Fabi. “We can’t wait to see what year two will look like.”