Levi shares soar as jeans retailer makes stock market return

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The family, though, will continue to hold almost 81 percent of voting power, through the company's dual share structure.

The shares were priced Wednesday at $17 and opened for trading Thursday at $22.22, a gain of 31 percent.

The proceeds from the IPO will boost Levi Strauss' coffers to invest in broadening its product range. Bergh said it's also looking at acquisitions too.

1934: Lady Levi's jeans are unveiled, marking the first pair of jeans for women.

They said Levi's now has the chance to improve market share with women beyond its core business of men's jeans. Its men's business accounted for $4 billion of Levi's $5.6-billion 2018 revenue, while just 3% of its revenue came from China. More than 120 employees from Levi's global offices, including its CEO Chip Bergh, took part in the event, wearing jeans and donning white T-shirt with the company's red bat wing logo.

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NYSE management said the regular dress code (business suits) was waived and traders will "wear head-to-toe Levi's denim".

The jeans maker listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "LEVI".

Some money raised from the flotation will be used to broaden Levi's clothing range and expand into more countries.

Levi's, however, still has to contend with its existing host of problems. Jeans sales appear to be on an upswing in the USA, increasing 2.2 per cent to $16.7 billion last year after four straight years of declines, according to data from Euromonitor. This growth rate is lower than the entire apparel category, according to analysts. The family had bought out the brand for 1.6 billion dollars. Another competitor, Gap, last month said it would split into two publicly traded companies: Old Navy and a yet-to-be-named company, in a process expected to take place next year. The IPO gave the descendants of its founders a chance to cash out some of their holdings.

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