Building an open corporate culture where creative minds thrive
By Fareeha Qayoom
ounded in 1853 by Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss, Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&CO) is one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel marketers with sales in more than 110 countries. There is no other company with a comparable global presence in the jeans and casual pants markets. LS&CO is privately held by descendants of the family of Levi Strauss. Shares of company stock are not publicly traded. LS&CO employs a staff of approximately 10,000 worldwide, including approximately 1,010 at San Francisco, California Headquarters.
In Pakistan, their corporate head office takes up a relatively smaller space of little over 8000 square feet only and houses a head count of 40 people comfortably. There is a provision for smokers and staff parking. It’s a non-smoking office. “Space has been allocated according to job function,” explains Shafaat Rasool Hashmi, Product and Marketing Coordinator at Levi Strauss Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. “Dockers and Levi’s brands are housed in one giant hall. Levi Signature and senior management have stand-alone individual office spaces. Departments are housed separately too – HR and Finance have their own spaces for example. The sourcing people share an open floor plan with built-in individual workstations,” he says.
“This is a rented space” he continues. “We take up two and a half floors in total. In the beginning, there was one giant hall on each floor – this is all our work. We had the place professionally designed, however, furniture was acquired based on employees’ input and individual choice – you will notice no two offices are identical. Everyone likes the décor! We have a very open corporate culture. You will notice all offices, including the management are glass-walled. Concrete has only been used on the front façade only. Our office environment may appear very casual but it’s very professional at the same time,” he says.
Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&CO.) is famous the world over for inventing the original blue jeans. In select circles of Pakistan (knitwear and textiles), they are also famous for changing the sourcing and retailing landscape of Pakistan. They were here first and they are still around when many brands have packed up their bags and moved on to greener and cheaper pastures.
LS&CO. strives to provide the world’s casual workday wardrobe, inside and out. LS&CO., a top maker of brand-name clothing globally, sells jeans and sportswear under the Levi’s, Dockers, and Levi Strauss Signature names in more than 110 countries. It also markets men’s and women’s underwear and lounge wear. Levi’s jeans – department store staples – were once the uniform of American youth, but LS&CO. has been working to reconnect with the niche and expand outside the US. It transformed its product offerings to include wrinkle-free and stain-resistant fabrics used in the making of some of its Levi’s and Dockers slacks. The Haas family (relatives of founder Levi Strauss) owns LS&CO. ■
This article was originally published in the print edition of “Valuemag,” issue 2, June 2008