The companies behind two iconic American brand names have announced plans to cut hundreds of jobs to meet a tough competitive environment. Jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. and toy store operator Toys 'R' Us announced the planned layoffs after reporting weaker sales and too much price-slashing over the all-important holiday season.
San Francisco-based Levi Strauss will cut about 800 jobs around the globe. Most are management positions. The company said it had to slash prices to compete during the holiday season, and also said its sales of clothing in the juniors and misses departments were weak.
The company's Levi Strauss, Dockers and Denizen brands are sold in about 2,800 stores around the world.
The company has survived 160 years of changing fashions from its origins as a San Francisco dry goods store. It patented the first design for blue jeans in 1873. The company is still controlled by descendants of its namesake founder.
Toys 'R' Us Too
Toys 'R' Us announced Wednesday that it has eliminated 500 jobs as part of a strategic plan to turn around its struggling toy business. About 100 of those jobs were at its headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey.
Company sources said the company will focus more attention on its internet site, but has no intention of closing many of its brick-and-mortar stores, which continue to be profitable. It currently has about 1,700 stores around the world.
The company has faced strong competition in recent years from internet retailers. Its most notable competitor is Amazon.com, but specialized boutique sellers such as those showcased on Etsy.com have also captured parents' attention.
Toys 'R' Us reported Wednesday that its net sales for 2013 hit $12.5 billion. That's a decrease of $1 billion from the previous year. It cited poor sales of video games and baby toys, among other items, for a weak fourth quarter of the year.
The company traces its beginnings to a young entrepreneur named Charles Lazarus, who opened his Children's Bargain Town store to cater to the baby boom generation in Washington D.C. in 1948. Its mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe was born in 1960.