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Levi Targets China’s Growing Middle Class to Boost Jeans Sales

Levi Strauss & Co. will start selling less expensive jeans in China later this year to tap into the country’s increasing middle class, Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said.

“The emerging middle class is the real opportunity,” Jorgensen, 50, said yesterday in a telephone interview from San Francisco, where Levi is based. The company wants to pursue “that aspirational consumer that’s really the future growth over the next 20 to 50 years.”

Levi sells jeans for more than $100 a pair in China, where it competes for affluent consumers with VF Corp.’s Lee and Wrangler brands and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.’s Calvin Klein line, Jorgensen said. He didn’t specify the price range of the new jeans.

Closely held Levi plans to start selling the jeans in the fourth quarter that starts in September, Chief Executive Officer John Anderson said yesterday by phone. He wouldn’t disclose Levi’s sales in China or additional details.

Levi plans to expand in other emerging markets, including India, according to Jorgensen.

Levi reported yesterday its net loss widened to $14.4 million in the three months that ended May 30, from $4.13 million a year earlier, because of debt refinancing costs and a tax write-down. Revenue advanced 8 percent in the second quarter to $976.5 million.

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