NRF's surprising choice for Visionary award

Walmart's Doug McMillon received NRF's top award last year, but the trade group's choice for its 2019 Visionary shows that retail leaders take many forms.

The National Retail Federation named Levi Strauss & Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Chip Bergh as the 2019 recipient of its The Visionary award, which is given annually to an outstanding retail leader.

Bergh spent nearly three decades at Procter & Gamble before joining Levis Strauss & Co. in 2011 where he helped restore growth to one of the world's most iconic brands and operator of nearly 3,000 stores.  

“Retail has been and remains one of the most dynamic industries in the world. To succeed, retail leaders must have passion, commitment, vision and an understanding of how this business impacts the diversity of their customers in communities large and small,” said NRF President and Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Shay. “Chip is one of those exceptional leaders who brings everything together seamlessly and succeeds by growing his business with the latest technologies. Throughout, Chip has stayed true to the culture, keeping a firm grip on the pulse of his customers but constantly seeking out new and better ways to meet the demands of next generation Levi loyalists, and pioneering with a sense of servant leadership that inspires his employees, his customers and other business leaders.”

Bergh, who serves on Levi Strauss & Co.’s board of directors, joined the company as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2011 and is responsible for a nearly $5 billion enterprise that operates in more than 110 countries with more than 2,900 retail stores and global distribution of its Levi’s, Dockers, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. and Denizen brands.

Prior to LS&Co., Bergh worked at Procter & Gamble (P&G) for 28 years in a series of leadership positions with a focus on brand management, ultimately becoming group president of global male grooming brands. Among other duties he ran the Folgers coffee and Jif peanut butter brands, was in charge of the integration of Gillette after its acquisition in 2005 and oversaw the launch of Swiffer and the remarketing of Old Spice. Before that, he ran P&G’s international business in India, Southeast Asia and Australia.

In addition to his work at Levi Strauss & Co. and P&G, Bergh was named chairman of the Hewlett-Packard Board of Directors in 2017 and has previously served on the board of directors for VF Corporation and the Economic Development Board of Singapore.

Former recipients of The Visionary award include Nike Chairman, President and CEO Mark Parker and Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon.